The housing shortage in Utah is leading to record price increases for both renters and homeowners. Our availability of affordable housing was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic because of supply chain disruptions, increased cost of commodities and surging demand due to low interest rates. These facts are underlined by Utah’s growing demand for housing through population growth and inmigration. The collective result is an estimated 45,000 housing unit shortage for renters and prospective homebuyers. This severe imbalance has caused price increases to outpace positive wage growth. The housing gap has turned into a burgeoning crisis for many Utah families unable to find affordable options.
Housing represents one of the key components to wealth generation and prosperity for families. The shortage of affordable units further widens the wealth gap between renters and potential first-time homeowners. The Salt Lake Chamber has fought this trend through its Housing GAP Coalition work on zoning and community growth planning. By coordinating infrastructure investments with the location of housing and job opportunities, residents can have choices that meet their housing and community preferences and give them greater access to opportunities. Further, coordinating housing with transit provides residents with more mobility options, reduces parking demand and reduces total household costs, leading to greater affordability. We know the current housing price spikes will require us to be as innovative as possible. The Chamber will continue to analyze and look at every opportunity to find ways to address affordable housing.
Housing GAP Coalition
To address this threat to our economic prosperity, the Salt Lake Chamber organized the Housing GAP Coalition, a group of business, academic and local and state government leaders committed to solving the challenges associated with housing affordability and ensuring the American dream is kept alive for all Utahns. This is accomplished by providing access to a variety of housing types for all income groups.
Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute Study Findings
The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute identified five best practices to meet the housing affordability challenge in Utah. Zoning changes, preservation, redevelopment agencies and tax increment financing, accessory dwelling units, and transit-oriented development were the key practices outlined. Taking a holistic multi-pronged approach will be necessary to change the landscape for our current and future housing needs.
- We support incentivizing housing near high-capacity transportation, jobs and other destinations, including transit-oriented, mixed-use developments that make smart use of land and allow residents to live in walkable, accessible communities.
- We support learning initiatives and workforce development efforts to address the state’s ongoing construction and trades labor shortage.
- We support legislative action to provide funding for deeply affordable housing.
- We support the increased funding of community policing and public safety programs for any shelter-hosting city as part of a coordinated regional and statewide plan to minimize homelessness and increase public safety.