Study highlights rental housing crisis In Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's no secret homeowners are being hit hard by the recession, but what about renters? A new report out this week shows affordable housing in Utah is becoming less affordable.

Not only is it tough for low-income renters to afford a modest place to live, but with a rising unemployment rate in Utah, they're now competing with more and more people who've found themselves strapped for cash.

According to National Low Income Housing Coalition, in Utah, to afford a two bedroom, fair-market apartment at $736 a month, you need to make $14.16 an hour.

The average wage is under $12 an hour.

That itself is a problem, but in a recession, the demand for affordable housing goes way up. Utah housing experts say more renters are now forced to find roommates, and some are moving in with family.

Larry Lystrup, a rental agent for Find and Rent, said, "Although we do have a real diverse economy, we have a lot of people that are working and yet still have a difficult time affording suitable housing."

Utah ranks 23rd out of 51 jurisdictions when it comes to a two-bedroom housing wage.

The Utah Housing Coalition recommends people try to make themselves more desirable renters. For example take steps to improve your credit. Another interesting note: vacancy rates have gone up several percentage points in the last year, but those are more expensive units.

If you're looking for something between $500 or $600 a month, your options are limited.

Quick facts about Utah

  1. The housing wage in Utah is $14.16 per hour. That is, to afford a modest two-bedroom unit (i.e., a unit at HUD's Fair Market Rent for the region), a renter must earn an hourly wage of $14.16, which is 216% of the $6.55 minimum wage
  2. In Utah, the estimated percent of renters unable to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent is 39 percent.
  3. In Utah, the estimated mean (average) wage is $11.75, and workers earning this wage have to work 48 hours per work to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
  4. Minimum wage workers earning $6.55 per hour must work 86 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom unit.
  5. An extremely low-income household earning $19,361( or 30 percent of Utah's Area Median Income of $64,548) can afford a monthly rent of no more than $484, while the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom unit is $736.
  6. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly payment is $674, and an affordable rent should be $202.
  7. SSI have an affordability gap of $534 per month, minimum wage workers a gap of $395, extremely low-income households a gap of $252, and mean wage workers have gap of $125 a month.
  8. Utah Ranked 23rd out of 51 jurisdictions in terms of housing wage for a two-bedroom apartment (Courtesy: Utah Housing Coalition) E-mail:

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Whit Johnson


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