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Beaver County project hopes to fill a need for rural family homes ‘at a lower price’

A for rent sign outside of a Utah building, July 8, 2021.
Brian Albers
A for rent sign outside of a Utah building, July 8, 2021.

It's no secret that Utah is growing at a rapid pace and needs more affordable housing. Gov. Spencer Cox even touched on the issue during his State of the State Address.

“If we want less expensive housing, we simply need more of it. And not just deeply affordable or low-income housing — although we certainly need that, too — but more of everything," Cox said.

Even in small, rural areas like Beaver County, housing can still be hard to obtain. According to Kem C. Gardner Institute, Beaver City grew 15% from 3,112 residents to 3,592 between 2010 and 2020. Beaver County grew 7%.

"Right now, our young families are trying to move back or young families that are living here either with parents or were in some sort of other family housing with other people. And there's just not the availability of those. Houses that are at a lower price," said Beaver Housing Authority Executive Director Travis Hollingshead.

To address the problem the authority worked with the Utah Housing Corporation to construct a 25-unit affordable housing development targeted at individuals and families of lower incomes in the county.

Beaver Meadows consists of 20 apartment units in Beaver City and another five units in nearby Milford.

"The project is serving household incomes as low as 39% of the area median income," said Utah Housing Corporation's Vice President of Housing Development Susan Van Arsdell.

For example, at an income of $36,476 to $45,595 for a household of four, the Utah Housing Corporation said that rent would be $589 to $896 per month, plus utilities.

Hollingshead said Beaver County isn't as susceptible to poverty compared to other rural communities, but they're not immune to it either. A 2021 census report shows the county has a poverty level of 9.2%.

Even with the new development up and running, the need for affordable housing remains in the Beaver community. Hollingshead is in contact with landlords throughout the county to keep up with availability.

"Everybody has a list. So it's going to be tough, I think, in the near future to find housing as it's provided. So you know, we want to be able to help everybody from those who may be passing through and even those young families trying to come back to where they grew up," Hollingshead said.

For now, the Beaver Housing Authority will continue to look for ways to partner with real estate agencies and affordable housing projects as the need continues. “

“It is something definitely on everybody's scope of what's the next project we can get in because we need it," Hollingshead said.

Unfortunately, he said the building of homes in the area has slowed down a bit. But he remains optimistic about the future. Tenants will start moving into the new units in February.

Curtis Booker is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in Central Utah.
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