To solve LA’s massive shortage of housing, a new startup is helping people take advantage of the county’s 250,000 underused two-car garages (and its hundreds of thousands of backyards). The startup, United Dwelling, helps homeowners to build a new apartment or living space on their property for free and finds people to rent the space. In exchange, United Dwelling gets a portion of the rent.
When it partners with homeowners, the startup makes an agreement to lease either the garage or backyard for a period of time (usually 15 years) and then invests in building a studio apartment with a full kitchen, laundry, and outdoor space. The company insures the space and manages the rental, though homeowners can select from an array of vetted tenants, and then get a small cut of the rent, which will be priced at 30% or less of the area median income.
United Dwelling says there are nearly 600,000 parcels of land in LA County that could accommodate an accessory dwelling unit (ADU)—which is the official name of these small housing units. That doesn’t mean that United Dwelling wants to build 600,000 units, but rather, that there is more space in LA for people to live affordably than people might think.
For now, United Dwelling’s goal is to build 500 units within the next year.