Calvin Roberts: I Support ADUs for Housing Diversity

Close up headshot of Calvin Roberts with water in the backgroundBy Calvin Roberts

I am a 34 year old long time resident of the city- I have been here since high school- and have spent my entire life since graduating from JMHS working in the foodservice sector in downtown, largely using a bicycle as my primary means of transportation. My support for approving the construction of new ADU’s in the city cannot be overstated.

I lived in an ADU for a few years and loved the experience. ADUs offer a young person or young couple on a service worker or entry level income an alternative to the crowded and precarious roommate situations that currently dominate in my demographic. This is not the only demographic that could be better served by an ADU than by either more large multi-unit development or more single family homes- I always dreamed of putting my aging father up in that ADU. I am currently in the process of using bedsheets to convert a living room in a townhouse that the family owns to move him into for palliative care- how much more graceful, how much more dignified would housing him in an ADU be in this moment? 

The fact is that the entire nation faces a severe shortage of housing stock, as I can easily see evidenced in my personal life in Fredericksburg by the massive rise in rent as a proportion of income and the subsequent flight from the city of those who provide our services- our servers, bartenders, baristas, the people who work in our nonprofits. out ministers- people without whose physical presence in the communities they serve the social fabric is harmed and whose requirement to commute to and from town is damaging to the physical environment. 

But not only is there a severe shortage of available units, there is also a dramatic mismatch between the type of units available and the type of units that are needed- there are many people both in my field, income range or economic status and others that are not best served by single family homes and that would be better served by the kind of smaller, denser units the building of which has been intentionally frozen across the country for the last few decades or more. These folks may also be served by the kind of multiunit structures that are currently being produced in the city, but the extent of the housing emergency is such that all available tools ought be utilized. ADU’s are uniquely suited for keeping families together, keeping those who serve in social roles without the financial rewards that other roles may gain, those who do not or are not planning on having a family and yet play important parts in our town’s social fabric- and doing all of this while really keeping the character of our neighborhoods intact. 

I can see no reasons to prevent the construction of new ADU’s that would pass the test of being more urgent for the city as a whole than the reasons for allowing said construction.

Calvin Roberts is a service work and a resident of Ward 4.

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