Building a Movement: Ryan O’Connell’s Unlikely Journey to Becoming a Housing Influencer

As Californians struggle with surging rents and real estate scarcity, the last thing we need is more influencers. Nevertheless, ADU specialist Ryan O’Connell is determined to popularize ADUs and empower normal Californian homeowners to fix the housing crisis through How To ADU, a platform dedicated to educating homeowners about Accessory Dwelling Units.

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) rules allow homeowners to build small homes in their backyards, or convert part of their existing home into an apartment. As an alternative to traditional housing, they allow homeowners to accommodate additional family members, earn rental income, and generally create more affordable housing. But these are expensive, complicated projects and Ryan has made major headway for the entire ADU industry just by talking about them on platforms including YouTube, TikTok, his Facebook Group, and his website.

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Ryan’s distinct approach to educating California homeowners sets him apart. Rather than picking up a hammer and building units himself, he has embraced the role of an educator, utilizing the power of online video content to disseminate comprehensive information about ADUs across various social media platforms

His genuine humility and commitment to continuous learning have made him a favorite among his audience. Additionally, as opposed to online groups dominated by vendors and investors, Ryan’s Facebook community allows homeowners to discuss their experiences, share challenges, and chronicle their journey into owning an ADU in a safe and secure environment. Through its organic growth, this community has evolved into an invaluable resource, offering reliable insights and guidance to those seeking them.

In recent years, Ryan has emerged as a critical figure in bringing awareness to the ADU space, providing insight into essential developments, and breaking news in California housing and politics. Notably, his TikTok broke the news about the city of Los Angeles’ staggering Annual Progress Report, months before it was published in public state records. The recently released 2022 housing element annual progress report reveals outstanding figures for Los Angeles, including 7,160 permitted ADUs, which account for nearly one-third of all permitted units, and 8,139 completed ADUs with Certificates of Occupancy. Based on these statistics, it was evident that ADUs are a substantial and integral aspect of the city’s housing market. Providing timely information to the public was crucial to Ryan’s role in pioneering online dissemination. In June 2023, How To ADU was the first platform to publish news about $50 million in funding for the state’s ADU incentive programs as well.

Aside from his TikTok prowess, Ryan’s informative tweets regularly uncover noteworth news like the wind down and closure of the largest ADU builder in Los Angeles. This announcement highlighted the ever-changing dynamics within the ADU industry and underscored the importance of staying informed about the latest news and developments. Bringing such relevant updates to the forefront reinforces Ryan’s position as a reliable source and a key influencer within the ADU community.

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Besides sharing news, he actively engages with homeowners and offers guidance through his group. When homeowners encountered difficulties applying for a state grant for ADUs, they regularly consulted his group for assistance. The importance of the issues at hand was recognized by Ryan, who echoed their concerns and raised awareness about them. Collectively, these efforts prompted relevant agencies to take action, resulting in positive results for homeowners seeking grant funding for their ADU projects.

With a track record of outstanding achievements in the ADU industry, Ryan has made remarkable strides. A prime example is his viral video highlighting the availability and requirements of a $100 million in ADU grants, resulting in a surge of applications and the distribution of thousands of $40,000 grants. His recognition as a housing leader also led to the County of Napa recognizing Ryan’s expertise and hiring him to create educational videos for their Affordable ADU forgivable loan program.

Looking ahead, Ryan envisions a future in which ADUs seamlessly integrate into everyday housing and real estate. He aims to empower communities in major cities by providing them with the knowledge and skills to build these valuable living spaces. Through his leadership of a movement focused on ADUs, Ryan aims to contribute to the solution to the housing shortage crisis in California and many other parts of the country. Ultimately, he hopes we’ll grant homeowners the autonomy to build their communities according to their unique needs and preferences.

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