SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – According to the US Census Bureau, Utah’s population has grown by 18.4% or 507,731 residents over the past ten years – the fastest rate in the country.

Growth is having a substantial impact on our state with a housing shortage, increased traffic on major roads, more air pollution, increased demand for resources, etc. Over the past week, we have explored how population growth is affecting different regions of our state, with a different theme each evening for our IN FOCUS discussions that include agriculture / open land, transportation, quality of the land. air, water / drought and housing.

Envision Utah reports that Utah is currently facing a housing shortage of between 40,000 and 50,000 units. Their researchers say less than half of our population can afford the median price of a home right now, which essentially means there are firefighters, nurses and teachers who can’t afford to live. in or near the communities they serve. In addition, the organization finds that house prices along the Wasatch Front have risen more than in most parts of the country.

The shortage is mainly caused by a combination of “perfect storm”. Envision says Utah has a higher birth rate than the national average, with children accounting for 65% of our growth. There are currently labor and material shortages. In addition, our geography places constraints on how far we can build due to our mountains and lakes.

There isn’t much land left near our main employment centers and experts say that if we don’t allow more housing in the valley where the jobs are, people will have to drive further to work, which will lead to a loss of housing. increased traffic, air pollution and infrastructure costs. . They say that does not necessarily mean that we have to build apartment buildings everywhere. But ideally, these apartments should be close to jobs, shops and public transport. The researchers also suggest accommodating more units with smaller lots, townhouses, duplexes, basement apartments, etc.

Ari Bruening, President and CEO of Envision Utah joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on CW30 News at 7 p.m. Will have to go a long way to find affordable housing, how we can add more housing without worsening traffic and air quality, and what our housing situation will look like in the coming decades.

Dejan Eskic, senior researcher at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, discussed the data on how homes are becoming unaffordable in Utah, how we stack up against the rest of the country when it comes to our home prices, nuances that come with building more housing, what causes housing prices to rise, whether people should wait until homes become more affordable before buying a home, and what are the best practices for keeping housing affordable.

Angela Price, policy director of the Salt Lake City Communities and Neighborhoods Department, explained what the city can do to encourage historic buildings to be reused rather than demolished, how the city is responding to neighborhoods that oppose change for new types of housing, and how the city thinks creatively about housing solutions.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Bruening, Eskic and Price, click on the video at the top of the article.

Watch IN FOCUS chats with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on weeknights on CW30 News at 7 p.m..

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning reporter who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as a presenter of CW30 News at 7pm. Although no longer in the field, she pursues her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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Mary Cashion

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