In Utah, one in eight households is cost-burdened by their housing, meaning they pay more than 50% of their income towards it. That’s according to a 2018 report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. Wages have not kept up with rising housing costs, and the state has an approximately 50,000 unit housing shortage, according to that same report.
State Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, has introduced a bill that would invest more than $35 million to address those issues.
$20 million would go to help private developers finance the construction of new affordable units. According to Anderegg, by using bonds and tax credits, those developers would be able to leverage that into $230 million, resulting in about 5,000 units. That’s 10% of the estimated shortage.
“It's a supply side aspect of what we're trying to do in the marketplace,” Anderegg said. “I'm a conservative Republican. Government's not going to solve this issue, but we certainly are a partner and play a role.”
Another $15 million would be used as rental assistance, some of it earmarked for families experiencing or in danger of experiencing homelessness.
“The state has never invested like this in addressing affordable housing,” Anderegg said. “We usually do about $2 million a year. This would be $35 million. So it'd be a huge step forward.”
Anderegg said it will be challenging to convince the legislature to approve such a large amount of money, but he’s hoping they’ll come close.
In November, the Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee voted 7-5-5 to recommend the bill. Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, who voted against it, said he wanted more specifics on the funding mechanism.
“It's a chunk of change,” Handy said. “And we want to be very strategic in the placement of these of these funds, and to ensure that they're going to do the most good ... I believe, however, with a few tweaks we can make this work.”
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow them on Twitter @SonjaHutson