Study shows UT housing could soon be out of control, impacting economic growth

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – The Salt Lake Chamber commissioned a study on affordable housing, and it shows a dire situation if steps aren’t taken soon. While some industries are able to keep up, the employees in others are being priced out of certain areas.

The full details of the study aren’t set to be released until Tuesday when leaders will meet to discuss the findings and solutions. Amy Osborne is Vice President of Public Policy for the Salt Lake Chamber and said the study confirms what many business leaders have been telling them.

"We are on the precipice of a crisis," said Osborne "a housing crisis here in the state."

She notes in many cases it’s just a matter of numbers.

"We have too few actual homes available and built for the number of households that are looking for housing," said Osborne.

There are three major factors impacting housing including lack of labor in the construction industry, lack of space to expand and zoning policy. Osborne said there can still be single family homes, but a balance has to be struck with density.

The study shows there is still time to get ahead of the problem. Osborne said in about 26 years the Wasatch Front could see pricing and housing problems like San Francisco.

Quality of life, and a lower cost of living have been a major part of Utah’s growth in the last several years. Bassam Salem is the CEO of Atlas RTX, and Vice Chair of the Utah Technology Council. He notes how important that’s been for attracting talent from major tech hubs.

"It’s absolutely a factor," said Salem. "We attract people based on what you get for the money."

Salem said that wages have been rising fast in the tech industry so many haven’t felt the pinch of housing costs. He knows other industries haven’t been as lucky.

As someone who has served on a city planning commission for six years Salem said he understands the need for affordable housing to insure success of a community not just businesses.

"We have to find a way to be a community with the complement of every functional area that we need," said Salem. "I certainly want teachers to live near me and firemen and so on."

Full details of the housing study will be released at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

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