Utah lawmakers say affordable housing will be a top priority in this year’s legislative session, which begins later this month. They say it goes hand-in-hand with ongoing efforts to combat homelessness.
The availability of affordable housing right now is shrinking, especially along the Wasatch Front.
The goal is to make sure people aren’t spending more than 30 percent of their income on a place to live. But right now, many are. And that puts them at risk for homelessness or financial instability.
This is why policymakers are looking at ways to provide affordable housing, without forcing it on local governments. One option is to give cities and counties a choice to either provide affordable housing, or pay a fee. Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes says it’s a collective problem that requires a collective solution.
“We understand that there are housing needs in a state that is growing as fast as Utah. If your city and its jurisdiction and its master plan is not accommodating for the kind of growth we are experiencing, whether we like it or not,” Hughes says, “we need you to help with cities that will.”
Affordable housing sometimes means higher density, multi-family developments, which aren’t appealing to some cities. The fees collected would be an ongoing revenue stream for homelessness and housing throughout the state. Hughes says he’s also interested in providing incentives to developers to build more affordable units.