Letter to the editor: a vision of ADUs to diversify Wellesley’s housing stock

Editor’s note: Wellesley Middle School Social Studies students as part of a Civics Action Projects has this week taken over The Swellesley Report‘s letters-to-the-editor page. The students are well-versed in their topics, have carefully researched all angles, and are ready to present their opinions to the community. Thank you to the WMS Social Studies teachers for organizing this community-based project.

To the editor:

The cost of living in Wellesley is 148.4% of the national average, while the average house expenses are 324% higher than the national average costs. This is making the reality of living in this town very difficult and out of reach for the majority of people looking to live here.

My goal is to bring more awareness to ADUs throughout the town of Wellesley. An ADU, otherwise known as an Additional Dwelling Unit, is a secondary housing unit on a single housing lot. The unit must contain at least 250 square feet of gross floor area, and no more than the lesser of 900 square feet. ADUs play the role of garages, pool houses, and even just mini living homes.

As of now, you might think that having an ADU on your property is pointless, and would only be costing you more money, along with an increased tax payment. This is not actually the case. In towns like Salem, where they have brought more awareness to ADUs, there is actually a financial advantage.  According to SalemMA.gov, on September 23, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law that gives homeowners the option to deduct their ADU from tax payments. This means there would be no additional charge for having the ADU on owned property.

These dwellings are very affordable in comparison to your regular home costs. To create an ADU, less money is spent because the sizing of these units are much smaller than an average home.They can also benefit homeowners by providing extra income, and can offset increased cost of living. This could be crucial, as the average price to live in a home in Wellesley is just around $1.8 million dollars.

In order to have an ADU on your property, here are the important laws in order for this to work. You must live in the ADU/PDU (primary dwelling unit) for at least 184 days per year. The same owner must own the PDU and ADU, and there is no dividing the two.

My vision for the future is to eventually have the majority of homes in Wellesley build accessory dwelling units. If we can start to build these dwelling units through the town, just like Salem, Wellesley will be able to address the housing issue in our town. I urge you to consider building an ADU on your property to solve the housing problem for the future generations.

Willy Segal
Wellesley Middle School student