‘Only place I had to go is my parents’ house’: Affordable housing crisis in Southern Utah

Southern Utah News

WASHINGTON, Utah (ABC4) – According to data from the Utah Workforce Services, more than 183,000 low-income Utah households pay more than half of their income for rent, becoming more likely to be evicted and moving closer to homelessness.

“I just moved back from Salt Lake because they sold my townhome and the only place I had to go is my parents’ house,” says Melissa Graff.

42-year-old Melissa Graft says she couldn’t find a job on the Wasatch Front that allowed her to support her five children and compete in this housing market.

“I have my oldest child who’s autistic, and then I have my younger daughter with me, living at my mom’s house cuz’ it’s just a two-bedroom, and then my younger son is with his dad, and my other kids are kind of on their own right now,” says Graff.

She says she’s been looking for a home in Washington County for the last 6 months, with no luck.

“As a single mom, when you’re making you know, 12 bucks an hour, it’s not even enough for the rental agencies, they want you to make three times your rent,” she says.

Juggling two jobs, one of them is a personal business she’s trying to grow in hopes to save up for her own place.

“I’m in like a limbo because I don’t qualify for low-income housing and I can’t afford everything else that’s out there,” she says.

Nearly 20,000 residents in Washington County are living in poverty, according to data from the state’s Workforce Services.

“I’m really sad because I’d rather have my kids with me, and it’s really hard to have them scattered everywhere just because I can’t find a place to live,” she says.

Data also shows the median household income is $58,877 dollars and the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom is $906. Graff says she’s not making nearly enough to keep up.

“There’s so many people out there looking for affordable housing, and so the lists are just massive, anywhere you rent, you’re up against so many people,” she says.

Graff says she can only hope Washington County will grow its affordable housing opportunities so locals like her, can have a place.

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