Home sharing platform to ADUs: City of Boise testing affordable housing concepts

Boise City Hall
Posted at 5:23 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 19:23:52-04

BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise is testing three affordable housing concepts and a group of city employees is working to gather information and feedback from community members.

One idea is to provide incentives and assistance for homeowners to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, in their backyard and rent it at an affordable rate. Other names for these include mother-in-law suites, accessory apartments or granny flats.

“The second one is a program to allow tiny homes on wheels in people’s back yards. Again assuming that they would rent those out at affordable rates to folks who need housing. And the third one is a home-sharing platform. So a platform that would match people who have extra space in their home with folks who need housing,” said Kyle Patterson, data strategist for the City of Boise.

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The idea for the home-sharing platform comes from Airbnb. The city is wondering if it could replicate that success.

“Before Airbnb existed, very few people did short-term rentals, but the platform was just so easy to use and simple that so many people opened up their homes as short-term rentals,” Patterson said.

The city is testing these concepts in a variety of ways. As Boise Dev reported, the city had an event to allow people to tour a tiny home and take a survey about it in July. They also created a choose your own adventure type booklet to get community feedback on the ADU concept.

DeAnna Watson, director of the Boise City/Ada County Housing Authorities, said she thinks these concepts are a step in the right direction.

“If we continue to evaluate options that might exist in other communities, different approaches, and then kind of tailor those to what we think would work in the Boise and Ada County area, then we’re taking small steps in the right direction,” she said.

The group of city employees involved in testing these concepts will present what they’ve learned to City Council and the Mayor at the end of the month. From there, it’s up to city leadership to decide next steps.