Blog Post

Insight: Act now to avoid a housing affordability crisis in Utah

By: Natalie Gochnour

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The Utah economy continues to perform. The expansion celebrated its eighth birthday this year, and the federal tax cuts will extend the expansion, which is already the nation’s and state’s second longest ever. These are prosperous times.

Every economic expansion party has a host of well-wishers — low unemployment, strong job growth, in-migration and rising incomes bring plastic hats, whistles and gifts to the party. But every party also has the party pooper, the rude uncle who can’t leave well-enough alone.

Utah’s economic party pooper may well be rapidly rising housing costs that are pricing moderate to low-income people out of the market. Utah’s millennials, schoolteachers, first responders and many other people starting their careers find it near impossible to find housing that is affordable. If we are not careful, unaffordable housing will impair our economic competitiveness as a region and end the expansion.

Clark Ivory, the president and CEO of Utah’s largest homebuilder, made this point at a recent seminar hosted by the David Eccles School of Business. He said, “Housing affordability is the key to economic development.” I couldn’t agree more. We need to take purposeful steps to get ahead of Utah’s affordability challenge.

Jim Wood, the