Home builders discuss housing shortage in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY - Builders and elected officials are working to improve the situation as Utah faces shortages of housing, skilled labor and land available for development.

Experts say the housing shortage comes down to supply and demand.

"The demand is increasing in Utah because we're growing, our economy is strong, and so on, and our supply of land close-in is declining,” said Ari Bruening, the COO of Envision Utah.

The Salt Lake Home Builder's Association hosted a discussion with mayors from cities in the Salt Lake Valley. That’s because cities have the ultimate say in where housing can go and what it will look like.

The population in Salt Lake County is growing, and that is not expected to stop.

"People want to come and live in Utah, and there's nothing wrong with it, it's just that we haven't had the techniques and the infrastructures that will accommodate that growth,” said Jaren Davis, an executive officer with the Salt Lake Home Builders Association.

Permits to build single-family units have declined, while permits for multi-family units have increased.

“The citizens really understand the need, 82 percent if you remember the slide, believe that we need to deal with our growth and that it's acceptable to have high density,” Davis said.

There are only about 40,000 developable acres remaining in Salt Lake County, with another 15,000 acres owned by Kennecott that could potentially be developed.

The price of single-family homes jumped more than 8 percent last year, and apartment rents go up between 5 and 8 percent every year.

Builders say that's mostly due to the housing shortage.

“It’s putting undue pressure on the values of our homes, the prices are going to sky-rocket if we don't meet together and find out ways to meet the demand of our housing and stock,” Davis said.

To combat the shortage of homes, leaders are trying to make sure the regulatory environment will allow them to build the number of homes needed for the growth Utah is experiencing.

To improve the labor situation, the Home Builders Association is putting together a trade school to teach every aspect of the construction process.