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Housing commission proposes accessory apartment incentive

Program aims to put more small units on the market

Posted: September 3, 2013 - 9:01pm  |  Updated: September 4, 2013 - 12:02am

The Juneau Affordable Housing Commission on Tuesday approved a draft of a program meant to ease the city’s housing deficit. The plan will be sent to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly via the Lands Committee for review.

If approved by the city, the program would provide loans of $20,000 to homeowners who commit to fashioning part of their properties into a single bedroom or studio apartment.

The loan’s 1 percent interest rates are meant to be an incentive to potential participants, Juneau Lands and Resources Manager Greg Chaney said. Each homeowner would have five years to pay the loan back. To participate, the homeowner would need a building permit and certificate of occupancy from the city.

The money for the loans would come from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund. The fund holds enough for 20 families to participate in the program at first, Chaney said. However, borrowers would be gradually paying the money back, replenishing the fund and allowing more homeowners to participate.

“It’s perpetual; the fund will stay intact,” Chaney said.

Commission chairwoman Tamara Rowcroft said adding accessory apartments to homes is a recently growing trend in the Pacific Northwest region, Juneau included. There have been 86 permits approved since 2008 for accessory apartments in Juneau. There have been 11 permits approved in 2013 alone, she said.

“There’s a lot of accessory development going on in neighborhoods,” Rowcroft said. “It’s very popular.”

Chaney said he thinks public interest in the program will be high. At the earliest, the program would take effect in four to six months if approved, he said.

“For sure it will be an incentive to increase housing stock, and that could only be a good thing,” Chaney said.

Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com.

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