Growing SLC: A Five-Year Housing Plan is a swell read, just released by the SLC Housing and Neighborhood Development Department. The city is a relatively small place where most people come to work and then go home at night to the 'burbs. The housing plan projects that we'll add 30,000 to the current population of almost 191,000 by 2030. What's kind of unique about our city is that we have a high proportion of millennials and minorities and a low number of senior citizens. We're at the top of opinion polls as a favorite place for millennials because we have a vibrant downtown and great tech-business opportunities. On the flip side, we're losing the battle to other cities from a lack of available housing.
The report states that SLC is in the beginning stages of a systematic housing crisis affecting middle-income households, and that "exacerbating the housing crisis are local barriers to housing development." No shit. Many of our zoning regulations are archaic, and supported by NIMBY neighbors who never want change. Here's an example: areas of single-family-only zoning. Homeowners don't want tiny backyard houses, basements turned into mother-in-law apartments or any more illegal Airbnbs on their streets.
The five-year plan cites three goals:
1. Update zoning regulations, getting good data to decision makers and removing impediments to housing development.
2. Increase housing opportunities by funding affordable housing, stabilizing low rents and increasing home ownership possibilities.
3. Eliminate housing discrimination and align resources to create areas of housing opportunity.
Right now, the report states that 7,500 households in SLC need help paying rent. The University of Utah found that the average rent for studio apartment is currently $1,000; $1,100 for a one-bedroom and $1,450 for a two-bedroom. Further, between 2010 and 2020, nearly as many apartment units will be built in the downtown area as in the previous 100 years. According to the Ivory-Boyer Construction Report last year, permits were issued for nearly 3,000 multi-family apartment units in the city. Relatively few new homes went up. The only way to get additional housing is to build more densly on the few plots available. Read for yourself at slcgov.com.