A garage conversion accessory apartment. Image by Building An ADU used with permission.

Right now, it's largely impossible to legally convert basements, garages, attics, and the like into housing units in Prince George's. However, the county is currently developing a Comprehensive Housing Strategy that will outline what housing should look like in the coming years, and there's an opportunity to legalize these types of homes.

Studies show that 41% of Prince George’s County residents are rent-burdened, and demographic trends suggest there's a dearth of smaller apartments. The county has also identified a need for rental housing for very low-income households.

These converted housing units — known as accessory apartments, Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs — can help address these needs and challenges by providing small, low-cost rental homes. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to build accessory apartments in Prince George’s County, and it’s about to get harder with the county’s upcoming zoning code update.

As Tracy Hadden Loh and Brent Bolin explained last year, Prince George’s only allows the construction of new accessory apartments within a handful of zoning overlays throughout the county. The zoning code revision will likely eliminate these overlays, and by extension, the opportunity to build new accessory apartments in the county. Accessory apartments are not mentioned in the new draft of zoning ordinances.

Tell Prince George's to allow accessory apartments

Fortunately, the Comprehensive Housing Strategy is in progress alongside this zoning update, and this process may provide an opportunity for Prince George’s County to re-open the door for accessory apartments.

Spearheaded by the county's Department of Housing and Community Development, the county is soliciting public input from people who live and/or work in Prince George’s. Two meetings are scheduled for 2018 — including one this week — and these are a great opportunity for GGWash readers to advocate for affordable housing in Prince George’s County.

I’d love to have a straightforward way to build an accessory apartment on my property, so I plan to attend one of these meetings in the hope that my presence can help keep these on the radar.

These meetings are intended to gather feedback on high-level strategies that will guide the Comprehensive Housing Strategy. If this is your first public meeting, this presentation from a meeting held last year gives you a sense of what to expect.

Click below to RSVP with us, and we'll keep you updated on these meetings and others as the Comprehensive Housing Strategy progresses.

Click to RSVP!

Public meetings will be held:

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Laurel High School, 8000 Cherry Lane, Laurel, MD 20707

Wednesday, May 16, 2017 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Northwestern High School, 7000 Adelphi Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782

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Anita Kinney enjoys a career as a government records manager. Her professional work has been previously featured on GGWash (she led the creation of the DDOT Library's digitization program, which lives on as a Tumblr blog and the "DDOT Back In Time" digital photo archive). She has been an avid bike commuter since 2006, and a MARC Camden line rider since 2016.