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AARP AARP States New Jersey

2024 AARP New Jersey Advocacy Priorities: Livable Communities

Expanding Housing Options and Affordable Housing

AARP Supports:

Expanding Housing Options, Including Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
S50/A4 (Singleton, Scutari, Lopez, Coughlin, Wimberly, Reynolds-Jackson)
and S2347 (Singleton)
A recent AARP survey of New Jersey voters 50+ found that 28% of homeowners say that their mortgage payment is 40% or more of their monthly income before taxes, and 43% of renters say their rent payment is 40% or more of their monthly income before taxes. The Federal government defines affordable housing as that which allows households to spend less than 30% of their pre-tax income on house payments or rent.

AARP supports more housing options for older residents to age in our state. Ways to increase housing options include the wider availability of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as an affordable, accessible housing option for people of all ages and increasing the availability of “missing middle” housing.

What is "missing middle" housing?
Across the United States, there is a mismatch between the available housing stock and what the market wants and needs. As a nation, we need a shift in how homes are designed and developed. So-called Missing Middle Housing is a critical part of the solution.

“Missing Middle” describes a set of residential building types that exist in the middle of the continuum between detached single-family houses and large apartment buildings. Such midsized, often moderately priced homes are referred to as missing because very few have been built in the U.S. since the early 1940s.

What are the benefits of "missing middle" housing?

  • Missing Middle homes provide the size and affordability options that people of all ages — including older adults — very much need but often can’t find.
  • Since Missing Middle dwellings are house-scale, the design and size of the buildings fit comfortably among detached single-family houses.
  • When a classic but too-large historic home is converted into a multiunit Missing Middle-style residence, the housing type can help preserve existing houses as well as an area’s look and feel.
  • The housing type can enable family members to live with or near one another while having their own space or residence.

What are ADUs?
AARP supports the inclusion of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as affordable housing options. ADUs are independent housing units, typically (but not always) created on single-family lots through remodeling or expanding the existing home or constructed as a detached dwelling. Detached ADUs may be freestanding or incorporated into another structure, most often a garage.

ADUs have many other names, such as “secondary suites,” “English basements,” “accessory apartments,” “laneway homes,” “ohana houses,” “casitas” and “backyard cottages.” ADUs are built in urban, suburban and rural areas.

According to AARP’s 2021 Home and Community Preferences Survey, most respondents would consider building an ADU to provide a home for a loved one in need of care (60%) or housing for relatives or friends (50%).

  • AARP supports S50/A4, which will allow funds from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to be used to create ADUs.
  • AARP supports S2347, which will largely require that municipal land use regulations allow the creation of ADUs.

Why do we need legislation that addresses affordable housing at the state level?
The need for more housing cuts across city, town and county boundaries. It isn’t a local matter — it is a statewide problem, and we need legislation that addresses it at a state level.

If we hope that ADUs will contribute to our goal of increasing housing supply, it is essential to create consistent and objective ADU policies and regulations across the state that are easier for developers, architects and contractors to follow and that will equalize opportunity among our communities.

New Jersey is way behind in housing production, which is contributing to rising costs, declining stability, and an uptick in homelessness. In 2023, it was estimated that more than 6,000 New Jerseyans 55 and older experienced homelessness.1 Implementing a consistent and statewide set of ADU standards will encourage more builders to compete to construct units with greater confidence that their designs will be approved. In a competitive housing market, where time and delays result in higher costs, this sort of predictability and clarity can meaningfully help us achieve our statewide housing goals.

1Statista/AARP analysis of census data available by United States Census Bureau (USCB)

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