Scott G Winterton, Deseret News Construction workers work at the Garden Lofts, an affordable housing project being built in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The near-vertical trajectory of housing costs in Utah ’s urban communities is likely to continue indefinitely, so the question should not only be about how to change the trajectory, but how best to alleviate its immediate impacts. While public and private entities are working to sharply expand the housing stock, it will be some time before supply catches up with demand. “We’re not going to build our way out of the affordable problem,” some experts posit. It’s true housing developers are engaged in a historically high level of construction, and supply hasn’t kept pace with demand. But building new units isn’t the only way to increase supply. Changing local ordinances and zoning policies could go a long way to slow down rent increases while adding mutually beneficial outcomes. Elderly residents in a large single-family home, for example, may welcome a young couple in their basement who could help with yard work, or a new homeowner may benefit from the extra income by renting out a room to a college student. Still, hurdles remain. If you want to build a mother-in-law apartment in Lehi, for instance, you’ll now have to pay an “impact fee” of $4,500, triple what it used to cost. Similarly burdensome regulations plague other areas. It shouldn’t be that difficult to convert existing housing to accommodate more people. In the […]
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