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In-Depth: Report suggests path out of Utah's housing crisis

Utah  housing
Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 19:31:37-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A new housing report from the Utah Foundation makes clear the state's problem is a population growing a lot faster than available housing.

"We have a lot of people coming from outside of the state. We have have a lot of people that are born in the state and that want to live here, and that puts pressure on development over time," said foundation director Shawn Teigen, the author of the report.

Numbers from the Utah Construction Report of the Kem Gardner Public Policy Center show that from 2010-2020, Utah added 44,500 more households than it added available homes. That has caused pricing pressure raising the median Utah mortgage by $469 per month.

Teigen says that scenario locks first time buyers out of the market.

"If you're locked out of home ownership when you're 25 or 30, or when you're 35, then you're never gonna get in," said Teigen. "It's hard to break in until you've got a foot in the door and that's with some affordable housing somewhere."

The solution the Utah Foundation offers in the report is a focus on housing referred to as the "Missing Middle."

"Missing Middle" housing is the kind of multiple-dwelling construction that's neither a single-family house or a giant apartment complex. The category would include smaller condo buildings, town homes, cottage courts (a grouping of smaller structures sharing a courtyard), and duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes.

The idea, Teigen says, is to incorporate affordable options into neighborhoods that don't have them now. For Teigen, it's the kind of neighborhoods that naturally occurred before development became the domain of corporations planning entire communities.

"If you look in historic Ogden or historic Provo or historic Salt Lake, you see a lot of a mixture of housing. You see single family units and next door is a duplex and maybe there's a fourplex and a cottage court down the street," Teigen said.

The Utah Foundation plans to issue three more reports on the subject outlining options for making more affordable housing available.