Members of the Utah Association of Realtors® and Utah Lawmakers are working to increase the number of affordable housing options that we have here in the state of Utah.
Anyone who has been buying or selling a home in Utah over the last several years has seen unprecedented markets where demand drove prices higher than we have ever seen, which has been a great boon to property owners as they saw their equity and value in their homes and investments soar. There is a downside, however, and that is the shrinking number of homes that would be considered affordable for first time homebuyers.
Margaret Busse, the Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce visited the Real Estate Commission meeting in December to share some of the initiatives that Utah has underway to help with affordable housing in the state.
1. Grants for Educators, Firefighters, and Veterans
The state of Utah is allocating $11 million in funding for grants for Educators and Firefighters if they are first time home buyers. This is in addition to the continued support they have previously allocated for veterans. It is estimated that the average grant for those who qualify will be around $15,000, and they are hoping the help over 600 families become homeowners with these grants.
2. Grants for Deeply Affordable Housing
Utah has also allocated funds for what is called Deeply Affordable Housing. When lawmakers talk about affordable housing, and deeply affordable housing, they base the numbers on the median income and expected house payments for residents. Affordable Housing is for residents who are earning 30-60% of the area median income. Deeply Affordable Housing is for residents who are earning 30% or less than the median income. You can see how our current housing market creates challenges for these residents. Utah has allocated 100 million from ARPA, the American Rescue plan. We’ve received $80 million from federal funding, and we have allocated an additional $20 million from Utah, with the intent that we can add 20,000 housing units that qualify as Deeply Affordable Housing.
3. Low Income Housing Tax Credits for Affordable Housing
Another area that Utah is working to address is Affordable Housing. We are working on another 1000 affordable housing units, and we have allocated $10 million ongoing, and an addition $5 million this year to help it come about.
4. Critical Home Repairs for Low Income Families
One area that doesn’t get nearly as much attention is when families that do own a home encounter expensive home repairs that are difficult when their income is less than 60% of the median area income. These critical home repairs might include things like roof repairs, windows, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC, things that might cause health or safety issues. Utah has allocated $1 million to help with these much needed repairs to help families remain in their homes at this time of need.
Additional Action is Needed
The Utah Association of Realtors® is working with Realtor® members, and with legislators to find more solutions to this growing problem. Utah is one of the few states that still has a positive birthrate, which when combined with the number of new residents moving in from other states means that this problem of lacking affordable housing will only get worse, until we can find better solutions. Utah Realtors® are already making plans in advance of the Utah legislative session. If you would like to get involved, be sure to contact your legislators.