The ranks of Utahns worried about affordable housing have grown dramatically since 2015 and conditions appear to be the worst for renters living in Salt Lake County, according to a new study.
The nonprofit Utah Foundation reports that of 20 measures in its yearly Community Quality of Life Index, public perceptions on housing affordability have seen the largest declines in recent years.
Statewide, about 12 percent of respondents to Utah Foundation surveys said their personal housing costs were not affordable this year.
That number hovered between 7 percent and 8 percent in Utah, Weber and Davis counties, and at 6 percent for Utah’s rural counties.
But in Salt Lake County — home to a third of the state’s population — that number was at 20 percent, or one in five residents. "That's a big difference," Utah Foundation President Peter Reichard said in an interview. "That indicates the sore spot is Salt Lake County."
Housing advocates with Salt Lake City estimate a gap of at least 7,500 apartments affordable to low-income renters making $20,000 or less.
And one in four renters told the Utah Foundation their housing was unaffordable, compared to 4 percent of homeowners.
Foundation analysts said that contrast was probably due to a relative stability in costs in recent years for homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages, while rents have risen much faster than the cost of living, especially in Western states and those enjoying rapid economic growth, including Utah.