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NY Times: The Garage Apartment is Back in Vogue In today's New York Times, Janny Scott writes about the reemergence of the garage apartment in suburban and exurban areas. The garage apartment or the "mother-in-law" unit allows people "who would otherwise be priced out of the housing market to live close to their jobs and relatives," Scott states. She writes:

Hundreds of communities across the country have rewritten their zoning rules in recent years, to eliminate longtime bans on apartments in single-family houses and encourage new ones to be built.

The revisions — allowing, say, backyard bungalows in Santa Cruz, Calif., and efficiency units in farmhouses in Vermont — have occurred largely in suburban and exurban areas where growth and efforts to control it have driven housing costs up.

Once fairly common in large houses but prohibited by zoning ordinances after World War II, so-called accessory apartments in places like garages or attics are now seen as one way to expand the supply of moderately priced rentals. They are intended for older people on fixed incomes, young people starting out and workers needed for essential but relatively low-paying jobs.

For a homeowner, a granny flat can be a source of rental income to help cover property taxes and other costs.
Perhaps, as a complement to mixed-income developments, Alexandria can encourage the construction of garage apartments in new developments and existing neighborhoods. By the way, garage apartments are a common feature of many of the nicest and most exclusive neighborhoods in the country. They can serve a variety of functions, and they increase property value. In Alexandria, I believe there are clear restrictions against building more than one residence on a single lot and that this precludes building garage apartments throughout the City. Of course, the Garden District features many homes with garage apartments, but these homes were built years before such restrictions became commonplace. I found this particularly insightful. From the article:
“The reason we don’t have affordable rental housing and legal accessory housing is because people believe the myths about rental housing,” said Marge Rogatz, president of Community Advocates, referring to suspicions that renters raise the crime rate and do not pay for the services they use. She added, “People do not want to have people come into their community who don’t look like them or don’t speak like them. There is a racist undercurrent that keeps these myths alive.”