Rows of houses line roads near Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé in late May. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Rows of houses line roads near Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé in late May. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

City considers funding boost to accessory dwelling grant program

Assembly move forward in committee to extend the program, increase grant amount.

More funding toward the construction of accessory dwelling units in Juneau could be on its way as the Assembly considers extending a city program that provides funding grants to local property owners to encourage the construction of more affordable long-term units in Juneau.

The extension of the city program — which expired in June — was approved by the Assembly meeting as the Committee of the Whole on Monday night. If the extension is passed by the full Assembly, it would include an upgrade to the amount of funding that would be awarded to property owners interested in the program, which was originally launched as a pilot program in 2015 with the goal of increasing affordable units in Juneau.

The Assembly originally considered passing the resolution with a two-tiered structure of grants — the first tier offering $13,500 individual grants and the second tier offering $50,000 individual grants — but ultimately voted to only move forward with the first tier.

If approved, the first tier would award 16 individual grants of $13,500 to property owners toward the construction of a unit, with the agreement that it not be used as a short-term rental for at least three years once occupied. That funding offered in the first tier is more than double the original $6,000 grant offered when the program was created.

City Manager Rorie Watt said the increase is to keep pace with inflation.

The second tier, which is still being separately considered by the Assembly, would award eight individual grants of $50,000, but in turn would require a higher level of commitment from the property owners. If owners commit to the second tier they would not be allowed to use the unit as a short-term rental for at least 10 years once it is occupied and must rent the unit at 60% AMI or less for that initial decade.

According to data provided by the city, the cost for a 60% AMI efficiency unit in 2023 would be about $1,281. For a one-bedroom unit, it would be about $1,375.

Following the decision Monday night, the extension and first tier of the grant program will now head to the full Assembly for final approval and the second tier will stall for further discussion.

Contact Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651) 528-1807.

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