Converting backyard sheds and garages might answer Denver’s housing shortage

DENVER -- Trenton Gamez is one of several west Denver residents taking a closer look at their backyard garage and wondering “Could this be a second home?”

”The rent here has gone up so high, it’s hard for a man and a wife to afford a one bedroom apartment,” Gamez said.

The idea of Accessory Dwelling Units have been around for years, but only recently has Denver begun a serious push to get more homeowners interested.

Erik Solivan, the director of Denver’s Housing Office said the goal is to target homeowners in west Denver during a pilot program.

“Piloting this program in west Denver could lead to further expansion in the ADU program throughout the city,” Solivan said.

Denver has committed $400,000 to help jump-start the program. Habitat for Humanity has also signed up to be a partner.

“It helps pay their first mortgage,” Councilman Paul Lopez said, explaining the benefits of doing this.

Lopez also said in addition to giving homeowners a second source of income, it allows people to stay in neighborhoods they grew up in and not be forced out because of rising rents.

“We want to figure out solutions, creative solutions to get people to stay in the neighborhood and not necessarily be pushed out,” Lopez said.

Of course, there some critics. Some residents don’t like the idea of lower income individuals living in their neighbor's backyard.

There is also an issue with contractors. Denver has a shortage and with high demand for large projects still taking place, it might be harder to find someone to do a smaller project such as an ADU