PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – There’s a major housing dilemma happening in Utah County. There are more people than there are affordable homes.
“Housing is no longer a shelter it’s an investment,” said Tara Rollins, Executive Director of the Utah County Housing Coalition. “It’s an investment for all of us.”
The current market rate for a two-bedroom apartment is $892. In order to afford that, a renter would have to earn $16.58 an hour. That’s more than two times the current minimum wage.
“The market is not taking care of it anymore and we need to figure out how we grow housing especially at the expense of what its costing,” said Rollins.
Rollins details one of the major factors keeping some people from being able to afford the American Dream.
“We’re losing units. So people are buying developments and they’re no longer affordable with no subsidy, so they’re increasing rents so people can’t afford them,” she explains.
Even with the financial help from the government in the form of a subsidy, the housing shortage is leaving those funds untouched.
“The other thing the lack of units we have subsidies that are not being used you know our section eight vouchers people are turning back their vouchers because they cannot find a place in Utah County to rent,” said Rollins.
Specifically in Utah County, the city of Provo is feeling the negative impact.
“We just haven’t been building enough units to keep up with the population growth,” said Robert Vernon, CEO of the Provo City Housing Authority.
As Utah’s third-largest city and the largest city in Utah County, Provo’s estimated population is more than 116,000 people. As a comparison, it was just over 105,000 in 2000.
That’s more than 11,000 residents in nearly 20 years.
Vernon says students from Brigham Young and Utah Valley Universities are adding to the problem.
“We have a lot of college students, and so we have a big population there that takes up units,” said Vernon.
In addition to population issues, Vernon says developers are building units that are driving up the cost of housing mainly because they’re catering to students.
LAWMAKER PROPOSES SOLUTION
The cost of housing has continued to go up every year and affordable homes can be hard to find. In part II of our special report on the major housing dilemma happening in Provo, a state senator says he has a possible solution.
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