To me one of the oddest aspects of endless discussions about affordable housing is how little emphasis there is on the fact that many areas have straightforward rules in place that just make it illegal for housing to be affordable. For example, in Arlington County Virginia you might own a nice big house. And maybe you're an empty nester who doesn't need as much space in the home anymore now that the kids are out of the house. So maybe you want to modify the structure somewhat to create a so-called "accessory dwelling" in the garage or the basement that you can rent out to people looking for a cheap place to live.

Well, you can't. It's illegal. But there's a proposal on the table to make it legal as long as no more than two people live in your accessory dwelling. That'd be a good idea, though of course families need affordable housing, too, so I wouldn't favor that kind of arbitrary restriction. Still, babies steps, babies steps.

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