Utah needs more public/private partnerships to solve affordable housing crisis
JDespite being squeezed by high gas and grocery prices, one of the biggest challenges facing Utahans is housing affordability.
“Salt Lake City is getting tougher and tougher. Demand is growing and supply isn’t keeping pace, says Matt Schwartz, CEO of Domain companies. “It’s becoming difficult to create housing in Salt Lake given where the costs are going, both construction and operation. Interest rates are also rising and capital is becoming scarcer, this imbalance between supply and demand is worsening and impacting affordability levels,” says Schwartz.
Those in Utah are no doubt familiar with the double-digit increases in house prices and rents over the past few years, he says. However, external factors apart from housing driven by inflation – such as the general cost of living, when people can find housing, the location of said housing and the proximity to transport – have made the situation of the affordable housing even more difficult to solve.
Producing more affordable housing is one solution, says Schwartz, but it’s a challenge in any urban environment for a variety of reasons. Accelerating production in the affordable sector is a starting point, but producing more homes across all housing types is the ultimate solution. “But you have to dig deep into how to get there,” he says. “I think [it all] comes down to creating public/private partnerships that produce housing, and the necessary volume that meets the criteria, which is essential for it to work.
The importance of these partnerships for sustainable development
An example of a good public/private partnership is The exchange, a Domain Companies project that used tax-exempt bonds and housing tax credits. “We worked with the state to make these programs work in a way that was more mixed-income friendly,” says Schwartz.