Housing Affordability Bill Moves To House, Despite Funding Shortages

Mar 6, 2020

Credit Micah Sheldon, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

As Utah’s population increases, so do the housing prices. Senate Bill 39 is part of an effort to help more Utahns access housing.

“I think it's a reasonable bill, it puts. It gives us an opportunity for money to be used for those in need for housing complexes, for those that are middle to lower-income, financing options, that it's not currently available. So it's not a handout. It's not a voucher,” said Cache County Republican Representative Val Potter, the House sponsor for S.B. 39.

The bill is part of the effort to address issues of housing affordability in the state. This bill updates legislation that was passed last year by adding financing options for those who qualify. 

Since tax reform was repealed, Potter said the bill is not likely to get very much general fund money, so they want to use money from the unclaimed property fund to finance it. 

The bill did pass the Senate, but Republican Senator Scott Sandall said he voted against the bill because he believes the housing market and wages will adjust on their own and address the issue of housing affordability. 

In contrast, Republican Representative Casey Snider of Paradise, said he sees the market-based aspect of this issue differently. 

“I know that some of the pushback is that that's, that's not market-driven,” Snider said. “I don't disagree maybe with that sentiment naturally, but what we have generally with zoning and things is not necessarily completely market-based.”

Snider said sometimes zoning ordinances can make it impossible for housing options that the market would bear to be built. He said he appreciates the incentive-based approach to encouraging communities to change this, rather than forcing them to adopt certain policies. 

Potter said S.B. 39 should come to a vote on the House floor soon.