Affordable rent difficult as rates rise and lack of salary increases

Posted at 7:29 PM, Apr 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-25 21:29:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Increasing rent prices, coupled with the lack of salary increases, have made it more difficult for many to afford rent in Utah over the past decade.

"People in the low income brackets are not recovering as quickly and in line with the higher income populations and it's concerning," said Barbara Munoz with Community Action Partnership of Utah.

Munoz said all income brackets usually bounce back after a recession at about the same rate, but over the past decade, those in the lower income range, haven't done as well.

Munoz points to the fact that Utah's minimum wage of $7.25 hasn't been raised in years, despite the rental prices continuing to climb.

"The average two-bedroom house in Utah costs $813 a month," Munoz said. "In order to afford that, the person needs to earn $15.63 per hour."

Fair Market Rent prices range county-by-county throughout the state with Summit County coming in the highest.

"In Centerville, we were at a one bedroom for $850, and when we left it was $1200," said Aaron Naylor, who has since moved to Salt Lake County and pays less.

Naylor said despite the increase in rent, his job salary hasn't increased much at his retail store.

Munoz said the impacts of rental prices are twofold, adding housing market prices are up, encouraging many property owners to sell, which reduces the number of rental properties available.

"Prices have definitely gone up," said Matt Schwarz, who owns roughly 10 homes in the Salt Lake area.

Schwarz said he's raised rent on his tenants in the past decade.

"I don't think they've doubled, but close to it," he said.

Munoz said legislative action has been proposed to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour, but that would likely only help those in the low income bracket. For those in the middle class, looking to handle the increasing rent prices, and lower increasing pay raises, they might be out of luck for now.