Breaking down the affordable housing crisis in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Low Income Housing Coalition released new numbers describing Utah’s affordable housing crisis.

It showed Utah is short 47,180 homes for extremely low income families.

It also showed in order to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment in the state, someone who is making minimum wage would have to work 94 hours per week.

Utah ranks 26th in the country (by state) in highest housing wages. That means someone would have to earn $17.02 per hour to afford that modest two-bedroom apartment. The highest housing wage in the country is Hawaii, at $35.20 cents per hour. The lowest is Kentucky at $13.95 cents an hour.

Utah’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. That means a minimum wage salary brings home $15,080 a year.

The other problem is people in Utah are paying more than 30 percent of their income to their housing.

“We have a number of people paying over 50 percent of their income to housing,” said Utah’s Housing Coalition Executive Director Tara Rollins. “It's discouraging and I think what's most discouraging is the thought that people aren't working hard enough. People are working extremely hard and unfortunately, there are a lot of jobs that are only hiring part-time so they have to have multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Rollins said the American Dream in Utah is unattainable right now.

“I mean for single mothers, who may have one or two children, to be able to afford (a two-bedroom apartment) just in Salt Lake county alone it's $19.04 an hour for someone to afford a two bedroom place.”

She also said senior housing is difficult to find.

“We don't have housing for seniors. There is a six, nine-month waiting list; over a year in places just to get a senior into them into housing," Rollins said.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski has developed a seven-point plan with the city to combat the affordable housing crisis, as she calls it.

“Nearly half of renters in Salt Lake City are considered cost burdened, meaning they are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, said Biskupski back in February.

Her plan addresses city policies that are old and outdated by new population standards.

“This plan acknowledges that some city polices implemented during a time when Salt Lake City was very different than it looks today are not limiting our ability to make change, and worse promoting economic segregation in our city.”

Rollins likes the movement the mayor is making.

“I totally think Salt Lake City is doing great,” said Rollins. “The first thing is having a conversation. And they've had more than a conversation.”

For more information about Utah’s affordable housing :

http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/oor/files/reports/state/OOR_2017_UT.pdf

http://nlihc.org/oor/utah

http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/SHP_UT.pdf