‘Dire’: Housing shortage in Utah, nation needs ‘immediate action’, says report

Local News

In this file photo, the exterior of a house with a pending home sale sign is viewed in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

SANDY, Utah (ABC4) – The nation, and especially Utah, is facing a dire housing shortage following decades of underinvestment and underbuilding.

The National Association of Realtors recently released a report saying a once-in-a-generation response is needed to address the housing supply crisis.

According to the report, every major region of the nation is heavily underbuilt with an ‘underbuilding gap’ in the U.S. totaling more than 5.5 million housing units in the last two decades.

A separate analysis by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute shows Utah has a housing deficit of 45,000 units in the last decade, according to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

“The housing stock around the nation has been widely neglected, with a severe lack of new construction and prolonged underinvestment leading to an acute shortage of available housing, an ever-worsening affordability crisis and an existing housing stock that is aging and increasingly in need of repair,” the national report says. “The scale of underbuilding and the existing demand-supply gap is enormous and will require a major national commitment to build more housing of all types.”

Between 1968 and 2000, the annual number of new housing units completed in the U.S. averaged 1.5 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. But from 2008 to 2020, housing construction in the U.S. averaged only 950,000 new units.

While construction rose in 2020, less than 1.3 million units were constructed.

The solution? Building roughly 5.5 million housing units during the next 10 years, according to the report.

The Salt Lake Board of Realtors explains new construction would need to accelerate to a pace well above the current trend to more than 2 million housing units per year. If the pace does not speed up, the national report shows it would still take more than 20 years to close the housing gap.

“Over the past decade, the largest housing affordability declines were in the Mountain West (Nevada, Utah, and Idaho),” says Matt Ulrich, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. “The median price of a single-family home in Salt Lake County climbed to more than $535,000 in May. More construction of all housing types is needed so more people can realize the American dream of homeownership.”

The report, as well the National Association of Realtors and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, argue lawmakers “must work to expand access to resources, remove barriers to incentivize new development, and make housing construction an integral part of a national infrastructure strategy.”

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