Affordable Housing advocates held a press conference today highlighting several bills related to housing affordability. One of my bills, HB 430, was included. More on that below. The highlight for me, was meeting Alexandra, a young mother, who attended the press conference with her 2 year old daughter Peitience. After the press conference ended Rep. Joel Briscoe and I had an opportunity to learn from Alix as she shared her challenges trying to find an apartment that was affordable and livable for her 3 generation family that includes her elderly father, her husband, and two children. I wish more stories like Alix’s could be shared with our colleagues. It always helps putting a face on an issue and this is no exception. Now to the bills.
HB430, Affordable Housing Amendments, creates the Commission on Housing Affordability, to function for 5 years, in the Department of Workforce Services. It builds on a bill I passed last year, HB 36, that created a fund to incentivize real estate developers and landlords to reduce rent and leasing rates for tenants by using loans and enhanced tax credits. That bill was the outcome of a year long Affordable Housing Task Force convened by Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and was a very important step forward in dealing with housing affordability, but the issue didn’t end with the passage of that bill in 2017. Having the Commission on Housing Affordability elevates and emphasizes the issue and provides an opportunity for a multi-sector approach to analysis of the state wide needs and resources and recommendations for policy and funding decisions in the future.
Tara Rollins, executive director of the Utah Housing Coalition, said a task force assembled in 2017 “really started a great conversation, and we need to continue that conversation.”
“Right now our population is growing faster than we can put units on the ground, and our wages are not keeping up with our rents,” Rollins said.
There are 68,000 Utahns who are making 30 percent of their median area income, she said, and they are paying more than 50 percent of their income to housing.
The other bills presented in the Affordable Housing press conference were:
- HB259, sponsored by Rep. Logan Wilde, R-Croydon, which would require counties and cities to create plans for moderate-income housing. It’s pending on the House floor.
- HB464 would be determined by legislative leadership, said sponsor Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City. But $100 million for housing, financed through the regular state bonding process, could finance as many as 13,000 apartments and generate $260 million in income from salaries and purchases and $50 million in tax revenue