Rhode Island House Approves Legislation to Boost Housing Production Through Accessory Dwelling Units

In a move to address the state’s housing crisis, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has greenlit legislation sponsored by Rep. June S. Speakman, Chairwoman of the House Commission on Housing Affordability. The bill, identified as a top priority by House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, aims to foster housing production by facilitating the development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on residential properties across the state.

ADUs, also known as in-law apartments or granny flats, serve as supplementary units to existing housing. They can take the form of a converted part of a house, an attachment, or a smaller detached dwelling. The proposed legislation (2024-H 7062), now headed to the Senate, grants homeowners the right to develop an ADU within the existing footprint of their structures or on any lot larger than 20,000 square feet, provided that the design adheres to building codes, size limits, and infrastructure requirements.

The bill is a collaborative effort with AARP, aligning with their longstanding policy goal of increasing ADU production. The legislation seeks to encourage the creation of rental units that are more affordable than many other apartments, offering homeowners the opportunity to generate income and maintain property ownership.

Chairwoman Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol) emphasized the importance of fostering creative solutions to combat Rhode Island’s housing crisis. She stated, “ADUs are an excellent option because they are generally affordable to build and to rent. They don’t change the character of their neighborhood and offer mutual benefits to renters and homeowners.”

To ensure the effectiveness of the legislation, ADUs constructed under this provision are prohibited from being used as short-term rentals, and the permitting process is streamlined. Representative Speakman highlighted the need for a simplified approach to encourage more Rhode Islanders to utilize existing spaces for ADUs.

The bill garnered support from various organizations and agencies, including the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, Rhode Island Housing, the American Planning Association Rhode Island Division, Grow Smart RI, and Housing Network RI.

Representative Speakman, who has been at the forefront of addressing the housing crisis, views this legislation as a crucial step in the broader effort to encourage the development of affordable housing. The bill has gained support from key legislators, including House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and several cosponsors, demonstrating a collaborative approach to tackle Rhode Island’s housing challenges.




Like Newport Buzz? We depend on the generosity of readers like you who support us, to help with our mission to keep you informed and entertained with local, independent news and content. We truly appreciate your trust and support!