Ryan in the News
Saturday, November 18, 2023
Ryan O’Connell: educating the public to create affordable housing at How To ADU
PublishedNovember 13, 2023
Photo courtesy Ryan O’Connell
Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.
Amidst the pressing housing shortage, one individual is empowering homeowners to transform the California housing landscape. Meet Ryan O’Connell, the founder of How To ADU, an organization staunchly advocating for affordable housing by promoting Accessory Dwelling Units. ADUs, innovative and compact dwelling units, offer a solution that can be built in existing properties’ backyards. With a passion for housing and a resolve to make a positive difference in the market, Ryan has distinguished himself as an advocate for homeowners seeking to learn more about the many options available to them.
Ryan’s journey into the housing industry began with a flourishing career in the wine industry, where he witnessed firsthand unaffordable living costs displacing local agricultural and hospitality workers. This realization ignited his desire to address social issues in California, including housing inequalities and related equity issues like access to education, good jobs, and health care.
Through his How To ADU YouTube channel, Facebook group, and TikTok account, Ryan shares a wealth of knowledge about ADU planning and building processes. The community began with a few members and has grown to be the largest online community of homeowners in California, with over 40,000 members on Facebook, 55,000 followers on TikTok, and 14,000 subscribers on YouTube. In response to the overwhelming demand for information about new laws and their potential impact on housing, Ryan has emerged as a reliable source of accurate and timely information.
Ryan’s recent video series “Why Affordable Housing Doesn’t Get Built – Housing Watchdogs” illuminates many barriers to building more affordable housing. Venturing into politics, he reveals instances of bureaucratic mistakes and underhanded politicians who try to block affordable housing initiatives. The series shows real projects and real elected officials and offers a direct insight into the challenges and obstacles faced in pursuing viable, affordable housing solutions, making it a must-watch for those seeking to grasp the multifaceted landscape of the housing crisis prevailing in the United States.
Ryan’s accomplishments in the affordable housing space have been nothing short of extraordinary. Notably, his groundbreaking news coverage in 2022 shed light on the state’s $40,000 ADU grant, sparking a wave of public awareness and leading to a surge in applications. Leveraging his influential platform, he worked for the County of Napa to develop informative videos about their forgivable loan program, effectively ensuring that loan recipients are equipped to be responsible housing providers.
“Education and communication are amongst the biggest challenges in the ADU space,” explains Ryan. The key to overcoming these challenges lies in a crucial interaction between these two factors. A multitude of new zoning laws are constantly being introduced to the legislative landscape, creating a complex web of regulations at the local level. Yet Ryan’s passion for housing advocacy and steadfast determination to disseminate vital information have yielded remarkable results.
From a long-term perspective, Ryan envisions the problem of housing shortages as not merely a California-specific issue but rather a nationwide issue of critical importance. Amid the impending escalation of this problem in various regions throughout the country, Ryan envisions playing a prominent role in solving the problem. Ultimately, he expects the implementation of a decentralized approach in which experts in major cities will lead the charge, guiding their friends and neighbors in the design and construction of ADUs, fostering a more inclusive and democratic housing market.
WRITTEN BYJon Stojan
Jon Stojan is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.