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REALTORS® Make Affordable Housing a Reality for Utah Families

By HOM Editor
July 2017

Utah Capitol

With recent increases in housing costs, many Utahns struggle to find affordable housing both in the purchase and rental markets. Securing affordable housing is particularly challenging for low-income residents. In fact, Utah faces a 38,000-unit shortfall in the number of rental units available to extremely low-income families, according to the 2016 State of Utah Affordable Housing Assessment and Plan.

The Utah Association of REALTORS® works to promote affordable housing in Utah. So it was no surprise when REALTORS® supported legislation that would make it easier for low-income families to purchase or rent a home.

The UAR joined Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s Utah Affordable Housing Task Force to help provide solutions. The task force, which consisted of stakeholders statewide, focused on developing legislation to help alleviate the state’s affordable housing shortage.

The resulting legislation, House Bill 36, consists of three parts designed to boost the availability of affordable housing:

First, the bill supports the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund, which develops housing for very low-income, low-income and moderate-income residents.

Second, the bill creates incentives for landlords to rent to low-income Utahns.

Finally, the legislation expands tax credits to help investors create affordable housing. To receive the credits, developers are required to pass their cost savings on to low-income renters.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Becky Edwards, explained in legislative testimony that the legislation “build[s] on models that we have seen and are existing right now that we know are successful in increasing the inventory of affordable housing.”

As the Legislature considered the proposal, Utah REALTORS® spread the word about the need for affordable housing and encouraged voters to contact their legislators to support the bill. Ultimately, the Utah Legislature passed the bill, and Gov. Gary Herbert signed it into law on March 23, 2017.

As these programs take effect, Utah REALTORS® will monitor their effectiveness and continue to promote affordable housing within the state.

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