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New accessory housing rules in Des Moines could lead to more affordable housing

The Des Moines City Council approved new code changes, increasing the number of homes which can take advantage of accessory housing from 21 to 78% of all homes.

DES MOINES, Iowa — If you're a homeowner who is looking to add a roommate, making your attic space or that room above your garage into a living area to rent out just got easier in Des Moines.

On Monday, the Des Moines City Council approved new code changes, increasing the number of homes which can take advantage of accessory housing from 21 to 78 percent of all homes in the city.

You may recognize those by their nicknames -- granny flats, in-law suites or coach houses. The increase is an effort to make affordable and accessible housing easier to develop in the metro.

According to Michael Ludwig, the city's deputy director of development services, Des Moines has existing units that are considered accessible housing. But historically, they were extremely limited. 

He explained the new changes made by the city are helping fill a need for Des Moines.

"There's kind of an unnatural, affordable component to it because of the size limitations on the units themselves," Ludwig said. "So we're hoping that this is a piece of our missing middle housing solution for Des Moines."

Accessory housing units can come in a variety of configurations. Detached and attached units, upper level of the main house, a basement unit, an entire garage, if converted properly, and unit above the garage.