Libby Schaaf
Former Mayor | Oakland, CA

Keys to Equity: Building ADUs for Oakland

Idea Category: Equity & Opportunity, Housing


 Oakland is experiencing a housing affordability and displacement crisis. Over the past decade, rents have increased 72 percent while incomes of Black Oaklanders have decreased by four percent. Black households face a high risk of displacement. 63 percent of Black renters and 45 percent of Black homeowners are considered cost-burdened, the highest of any group. Since 1990, the city’s Black population has decreased by 44 percent.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) -- smaller homes on properties containing a larger, primary house -- are an opportunity to provide affordable housing while building homeowner wealth. ADUs typically rent at below-market rates, are cheaper to build, can provide rental income for homeowners, increase property values, provide flexible living arrangements for owners and families, and can help stabilize communities experiencing gentrification. Black Oaklanders would benefit from ADUs but existing structural inequities, including disparities in wealth and access to capital, limit opportunities for ADU development among Black households. 


Keys to Equity is an initiative of the City of Oakland, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services and Self-Help Federal Credit Union to develop affordable homes and increase wealth for Black homeowners in Oakland by facilitating the development of ADUs. The program provides one-on-one project management services to homeowners, educational resources, complimentary ADU designs, permit streamlining, access to innovative financing products and a discounted construction process with a pre-selected general contractor. Although anyone can apply to the program, community-based program partners will conduct outreach efforts to target lower and middle-income Black homeowners.

The program’s goals are to (1) produce more housing that is affordable, (2) build wealth for Black homeowners, (3) stabilize communities at risk of gentrification and displacement and (4) create a scalable model by proving the efficacy and impact of ADU financing and development.     

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