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Salt Lake City apartments filling up and rents increasing

SALT LAKE CITY - More and more apartment complexes are going up in Salt Lake City, but so are rent prices.  It’s a trend experts expect to continue as more people move into the downtown and Sugar House areas.

“I think in short people are finding out Salt Lake City is a great place to live and work," Executive Director of Investment Sales for Cushman Wakefield Commerce, Kip Paul said. 

He said the growth is great news for property owners, but bad news for renters.

“Over the course of the last year, rent’s increased 6.5%.  That’s on top of rent increases of 3% to 5% over the last seven or eight years.  So rents as a whole have risen dramatically," Paul said.

There are currently 6500 units under construction in Salt Lake County with 4500 of those permitted in just the last year.  A handful advertise as "affordable", but many renters are not buying it. 

“There is none," Jamie Ulibarri told FOX 13. "I hate to say it that way, but I looked for months and months and there is none.”

Ulibarri lives in a low-income affordable housing complex, but she said she still pays $928 each month on rent alone.  “Yes, you do have a roof over your head," Ulibarri said, "but nothing else to pay for but the roof over your head."

While she works full time to support herself and her son, who is very sick, her family helped her look for cheaper places to live.  They went to 28 apartments in the Salt Lake City area, and her $928 per month apartment was the cheapest she could find to fit her needs, which includes being close to her job.  “You kind of have to pick and choose if you’re willing to pay more gas or the 50 dollars more a month or so ‘cause it kind of adds up to be about the same price," she said.  

She keeps an eye out for cheaper places to live, but said everywhere she looks there is a wait list, which people can be on for years before they can find an opening.  She added, with recent medical bills piling up, she had to file for bankruptcy so she could keep part of her paycheck to pay for food and utilities.  She said now that it is on her record, even if she found a cheaper place to live, they likely would turn her away.  She said it is a lose-lose situation, and it is one many face.

Renters responded to an inquiry on FOX 13's Facebook page regarding affordable housing.  Many agreed rent in the $900's is typical in Salt Lake City.  Some, like Lissa Pedersen told FOX 13 her family of six was not able to find anything affordable in the area.

"We've been looking for a 3 bedroom and for an apartment that's about $1,400 per month.  For a house, I've seen them go all the way up to about $2,800 per month. It's really quite sad," Pedersen said. She added her husband works in South Salt Lake, but the closest affordable place the couple and their four kids could find was in Vernal.

“Salt Lake City’s becoming a real city," Paul said, adding it is still more affordable than surrounding major cities, like Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles. 

Another 10,000 plus apartment units are projected to go on the market by 2020.  Paul has no doubt renters will continue to fill them up.  Whether or not they will be affordable is the question many renters want answered.