SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly eight months after Ivory Homes announced its Utah Workforce Housing Priority initiative to address Utah’s housing crisis, the largest homebuilder in the state has helped more than 100 public service workers and first-time homebuyers become homeowners.
Clark Ivory, CEO of Ivory Homes, announced plans Thursday to expand the company’s housing initiative and efforts to build environmentally efficient homes during a press conference celebrating the company’s completion of 20,000 homes at Rice-Eccles Stadium with company employees,
“As we celebrate 20,000 homes and look to the next milestone — 30,000 — we are committed to Utah more than ever before,” Ivory said. “We pledge to our governor that we will continue to provide more housing for our state’s workforce. This means a heightened focus on affordability.”
By the end of the year, Michael Parker, vice president of public affairs for Ivory Homes, said the company plans to help a total of 150 first-time homebuyers and public service workers buy a home through their housing program, aimed to provide discounted Ivory Homes to first-time homebuyers, military personnel, veterans, teachers, police officers, nurses, firefighters and construction workers.
According to Ivory Homes’ website, a newly built two-story home with three bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms and a two-car garage in Lehi comes with a $297,900 price tag through its housing initiative. The median home value in Lehi is $$391,200, according to Zillow.
Currently, the company is located across 19 Ivory Homes communities from Spanish Fork to West Haven. Parker said the company is hoping to help 200 to 250 more people buy homes next year through their housing initiative and add housing communities in Magna and West Jordan.
Our demand is increasing with growth, our supply is somewhat limited.
–Utah Gov. Gary Herbert
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert applauded the company’s efforts to provide accessibility and affordable homes to public service workers “who are not as high on the economic scale as we’d like them to be.”
“Our demand is increasing with growth, our supply is somewhat limited. Now schools aren’t keeping up with the demand,” Herbert said, which is causing housing prices to go up and housing affordability to go down.
Last year, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute released a study on how the state’s rapid growth has resulted to a strong demand for housing and its effect on housing affordability.
The study found that Utah’s rising housing prices could prevent homeownership, negatively impact low-income families that could end spend more on housing than food or health care and dissuade businesses from moving to Utah.
Herbert called upon other homebuilders, contractors and those involved in the real estate business to follow Ivory Home’s example.
“I call on the cities and counties to make sure we eliminate whatever barriers there may be that are slowing down the ability to have affordable housing,” he said, like zoning laws, building codes and “things we maybe need to take a look at with fresh eyes.”
Herbert a former real estate broker and developer, said he’s a proponent of home ownership and called it a significant component of the American dream.
“Private real estate ownership is the foundation for our freedom and liberty in our country,” he said. “We ought to appreciate that, understand it, applaud it and encourage people to participate in ownership of real property.”
The state’s homeownership rate is 70%, Herbert said, and higher than the national homeownership average of 66%.
Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance, called Ivory Homes leaders conveners and collaborators who work to solve challenges in the community.
The housing crisis, Miller said, is a threat that affects the state’s long-term economic prosperity that affects industries, professions and future generations. Miller said the Salt Lake Chamber and Ivory homes have teamed up to form the Housing Gap Coalition to solve the state’s housing problem.
“They are pivotal in working with the chamber to addressing the state’s housing shortage,” Miller said.
Ivory also pledged the company would become “greener” than ever before and address air quality and water challenges.
“We will lead our market to be more sustainable and energy efficient,” he said, by reducing waste, becoming more water efficient and through their effort to plant 30,000 trees across the state.
Beginning next year, Ivory said the company will build each home with a standard electrical outlet for electric vehicles and will partner with Rocky Mountain Power to offer homebuyers discounted electric vehicle chargers.