• Sat. Jun 10th, 2023

Mayor, Councilmembers Jeffreys and Harris, and Vice Mayor Kearney announce proposal expanding housing options in Cincinnati


Mayor Aftab Pureval, Councilmembers Mark Jeffreys and Reggie Harris, and Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney announced a new proposal expanding housing options in Cincinnati. This proposal would make Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) legal once again in the City. An ADU can be added to, created within, or detached from a single-family dwelling (ex. a rented-out garage, basement, or carriage house.) They are a simple way to promote greater access to housing, aging in place, and wealth creation.

The announcement was made at a press conference at City Hall with Nicole Ware, AARP; Darrick Dansby, Greater Cincinnati Realist Association; and Elisabeth Risch, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, present.                        

The proposed ordinance would allow for the construction of accessory dwelling units on lots of existing single-family homes in Cincinnati.

Zoning changes could reshape single-family neighborhoods in Cincinnati to include more multi-family homes and accessory dwelling units. The ordinance would allow for the construction of accessory dwelling units on lots of existing single-family homes. 

An accessory dwelling unit is described in the ordinance as a “self-contained dwelling unit designed for occupancy by one family for living and sleeping purposes that provides complete independent living facilities, including its own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area; that is located on the same lot as a larger single-family dwelling that serves as the principal use of that lot; and whose use is subordinate and incidental to the larger single-family dwelling.”

A newly-built accessory dwelling unit cannot take up more than 15% of the lot, or 800 square feet, whichever is greater. The ordinance language does provide an allowance for existing garages to be converted into fully-functioning homes, even if they do not match the size requirements for new structures. 

The ordinance, proposed by Councilmember Mark Jeffreys, would increase the number of available rental units in the city.

“ADUs give residents the choice of aging in place in their community,” Jeffreys said. “These units are often naturally affordable, and allow for older residents to downsize in their own neighborhoods and their own houses.”

Nicole Ware with AARP Ohio says the new reality is that people are living longer and retiring differently.

“That new reality calls for a new innovative approach to help shape our future,” Ware said. “One like making accessory dwelling units an available option here in Cincinnati, it empowers older adults to choose how they live as they age.”

Darrick Dansby, president of the Greater Cincinnati Realtors Association, says the change could help increase the city’s low rate of Black home ownership.

The extra unit could be used for long- or short-term rentals.

“We often recommend to our members as well as our clients to purchase income producing property such as duplexes or triplexes, because sometimes that passive income is a difference between whether you can afford to make the leap into homeownership,” Dansby said. “Accessory dwelling units, similar to duplexes, can provide extra income to propel someone into owning their own home.”

Next steps on the ordinance include review from council’s Equitable Growth and Housing committee and talks with Invested Neighborhoods, which is the umbrella organization for all of Cincinnati’s community councils. Jeffreys said the ordinance would need to go before the Cincinnati Planning Commission in May before council ultimately votes on the final ordinance language. 

Another ordinance announced last month by Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Kearney would modify zoning laws to allow owners of homes that once contained multiple units, but were later changed to single-family homes as a result of zoning laws, to convert those homes back to multi-family units without the need of a permit.

That ordinance is still under review from city planners and will also need final approval from council.