Cox says affordability, short-term vacation rentals stymie Utah’s housing growth | Utah

(The Center Square) – A new report released Thursday shows Utah has the fastest-growing housing market in the country, but Gov. Spencer Cox says there’s still a shortage.

the report from the United States Census Bureau said Utah experienced the nation’s fastest growth in housing units, with an increase of 2.7% from July 2020 to July 2021.

But that growth doesn’t appear to be keeping up with demand, according to the governor. Cox says housing remains one of Utah’s biggest challenges as the state is currently suffering from a shortage of about 40,000 homes.

Affordability is also an issue. Utah housing prices grew 27% in 2021, and monthly prices for renters increased about 21%, according to Cox. He said the legislature approved about $55 million this year for “deeply affordable housing.”

“Utah is currently now one of the top ten worst housing markets in terms of affordability when you look at the income relative to what housing cost,” Cox said Tuesday during an online chat hosted by the J. Ronald Terwilliger Bipartisan Policy Center.

Cox said the legislature also approved nearly $50 million over the past three legislative sessions to support the Utah Housing Preservation Fund to maintain affordable housing in rural areas.

However, it’s not just the rural areas that need help. Though Utah is seen as a big rural state, Cox said it is densely populated, with about 85% of the state’s population clustered along the Wasatch Front.

The last two legislative sessions saw more infrastructure spending approved than ever before in the state’s history, according to the governor. But the housing shortage remains and he believes another factor playing a role is short-term rentals like Vrbo and Airbnb.

“This is a new phenomenon and what we’re seeing in Utah,” Cox said. “I’ve looked at the numbers, we’re building more and more homes in an expedited rate more than ever before in our state’s history but we aren’t seeing what we would expect to see is a measured decline in housing prices because that amount of housing should be keeping up with the new growth at least that is coming in and should stabilize things. before. And so that’s housing stock that now isn’t being rented to families or available to purchase.”

According to AirDNA, Utah has approximately 12,000 active listings, with most in Salt Lake City and the popular skiing destination Park City.

He added his administration hasn’t figured out what to do about this since he is a proponent of private property rights.

“I don’t like to tell people they can’t do those types of things with their property, but it is an issue and I think it’s an issue we need to talk about more,” Cox said.

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