A new report by the Downtown Salt Lake City Alliance finds the city lacks affordable housing for young and low-income workers.
The Downtown Alliance is a private nonprofit that works with the city to study and improve the downtown area. This year’s annual study found that Salt Lake City housing is, on average, less expensive than surrounding cities – like Seattle or San Francisco. What the city lacks is enough affordable housing.
The research showed more than 9 thousand people in Salt Lake need low-income housing but only about half that amount of affordable housing available.
Jason Mathis is the executive director of the Downtown Alliance. He says the housing deficit has the biggest impact on young adults who want to work and live in Salt Lake.
“Our research tells us that the biggest group of people who want to live downtown, 44 percent of 18 to 24 year olds in the state, say they’d consider living downtown" he says. T"hey’re interested in living downtown, but they sometimes can’t afford the price that downtown apartments or condos go for right now.”
The study also highlighted liquor laws in the state. Mathis says restaurants and clubs are one of the biggest industries growing downtown but Utah’s alcohol regulations could be holding those businesses back. He says restaurants and clubs can’t get wholesale pricing for alcohol, unlike surrounding states, and that hurts restaurants’ ability to compete.
“We’re going to ask for a full review of our liquor laws as a state, to say are these laws really making sense? Are they really contributing to what we think they’re contributing to? Are they helping to grow our economy? Are they actually in fact making us a safer community? Cause if they’re not let’s find better ways of doing that” he says.
Mathis says he’ll be working with the city to make more housing available for young people and to enhance restaurants and clubs to develop a vibrant downtown for Salt Lake City.