The city of Tucson is hoping to address certain housing issues with accessory dwelling units or ADUs.

One way they are kickstarting that is through a Casita Model Plan competition which will ultimately choose ten designs with each designer receiving $1,000.

In 2022, when the city approved zoning changes to permit the construction of casitas, or cottages as they are known in Spanish, they recognized an opportunity to tackle specific housing challenges in the area.

“Weve been working on these small home plans for a couple years,” said Chris Lach, one of the competition’s designers. “So now the job is to adapt it to the particular parameters and needs of Tucson.”

In June, the Tucson Planning and Development Service received a $12,000 grant through the 2023 AARP Challenge to establish a model plan library for ADUs in Tucson.

The city believes this initiative will reduce design costs and lower barriers to building them.

“We wanted to be part of helping the city bring this idea to fruition,” stated Julie Stewart, President of AIA Southern Arizona.

On Thursday, designers had the opportunity to receive real-time feedback on their designs from experienced architects before submitting them for consideration.

Stewart said, “We saw some very viable designs.”

The 15-year veteran of the field was one of those providing feedback.

She believes that some of the designs align with the city’s objective of addressing the housing needs of older adults and multi-generational families.

“You see a lot of people where this will help address that aging in place. Ideally at some point if we can get the cost down, this can very much be affordable housing,” she explained.

“It won’t completely resolve the housing crisis, but it’s a step in the right direction,” added Lach.

Lach is particularly enthusiastic about the potential exposure, stating, “Its about being showcased on the website as one of the chosen designs and the kind of accessibility to potential clients that it offers.”

All design submissions must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 18.