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Free Citrus Heights program can save homeowners thousands in affordable housing push

Free program can save Citurs Heights homeowners thousands in affordable housing push
Free program can save Citurs Heights homeowners thousands in affordable housing push 01:52

CITRUS HEIGHTS — The city of Citrus Heights says a free program to build more affordable housing is turning into a big success.

Jean Marie Willbee grew up in Citrus Heights and is surprised at how fast real estate prices are rising.

"I found $600,000 for a new home and that just blew me away," she said.

The city is trying to promote more affordable housing construction by encouraging current homeowners to build a second unit on their existing property.

"It's not perfect for every property, but we have a lot here that people can take advantage of that," said Casey Kempenarr, the city's community development director.

They're officially called accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, but some people call them "granny flats" because they're often used by family members.

"Sometimes, the parents are moving to the smaller unit and they're having their kids move into the bigger unit," Kempenarr said.

Now Citrus Heights is seeing record demand for a free city program that can save homeowners building ADUs thousands of dollars. There are pre-approved plans for one- and two-bedroom units that Citrus Heights offers on its website for free.

"We've had really good feedback on what the designs look like," Kempenarr said.

Using these designs eliminates the need to hire an architect and undergo the city's planning review process.

So just how much money can homeowners save by using these free plans?

"It can really vary, but at least $7,000 is our estimate right now," Kempenarr said.

The city says the incentive program has been a big success.

Governor Gavin Newsom has set a goal of building two and a half million new housing units by 2030 to address the housing crisis, and Citrus Heights says these tiny homes will help meet growing demand.

"They're well-sized. They're comfortable, really well designed," Kempenarr said. "They feel like there's lots of room, and they're really just a nice place to live."

Property owners will still have to pay for building permits, but fees are reduced for these smaller dwelling units.

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