In our last email, we discussed how Utah’s economy affects the Housing Gap. We all want to live in good neighborhoods that have well-developed infrastructure and access to services and good schools, but to do so, we need to start saying yes to smart growth. Whether you currently own a home or are looking to buy one in the future, the Housing Gap affects Utahns at every stage in life. Learn whether your community is headed toward smart growth by asking these Housing Gap questions.

Does your community have a variety of housing options?

In 40 years, Utah’s population will double. That means that the Housing Gap will affect communities across the state. Having a variety of housing options in your neighborhood will ensure that the various needs in your community are covered, whether it means housing affordability for seniors or townhome units for younger families. Having a variety of housing options ensures that your neighborhood is prepared to house Utahns — and your family — in all stages of life.

Do you have children?

If you have children, chances are you want them to stay in Utah and enjoy the same quality of life that you do. However, rising home prices may jeopardize their chance to stay in the Beehive State. Right now, 74 percent of millennials rent or live with parents, relatives or friends before buying a home. As housing prices soar, fewer millennials can afford to remain in Utah, which will separate families. In order to keep families together, we need to ensure that all Utahns can afford a place to live despite the Housing Gap.

Additionally, Utah’s Housing Gap affects many aspects of life, some of which are surprising at first glance. Children who lack the stability of a home lag behind their peers academically and are more likely to be in poor health and suffer developmental delays. Health and educational outcomes improve when children have the security of a home that is affordable. Also, students lose 4-6 months of academic progress each time they move schools. As housing prices soar, moderate-income families can no longer afford desirable neighborhoods. Having a variety of housing options gives more families the ability to choose where they live and position their children for academic success.

Are you going to retire soon?

Many senior citizens have lower than average incomes. They are susceptible to market changes, which can affect retirement savings. Almost 40 percent of people who have recently raided their retirement savings to pay current debts are over the age of 50, according to author Mechele Dickerson. Seniors often have to anticipate whether their financial situation will change after retirement, which may affect housing decisions. A community that plans for smart growth will provide various options ranging from senior communities to reasonable single-level homes. Make sure to question whether your community has affordable options for senior citizens.

What do your roads look like?

Utah’s unprecedented growth often means that we are feeling the effects — one of which means increased traffic. While we can’t control all of our growth, we can start saying yes to smart growth. Encouraging high-density residential developments within a half-mile radius of public transit nodes expanded San Diego’s housing stock by almost 30 percent. Making smart choices, such as using TravelWise strategies and building housing near a variety of transportation options, ensures that we have smart growth.

When thinking about how your community handles smart growth, ask these questions to assess whether it’s on the right path. Together, we can close the Housing Gap in Utah. We just have to start saying yes to smart growth.

Stay tuned for our next email, where we will cover specific ways that you can encourage smart growth in your community.