by Bill Tibbitts
The State of Utah recently released its 2017 Affordable Housing Assessment. This assessment shows that 74.5 percent of low income Utah families that are renting pay over half of their monthly income on rent. This severe rent burden puts thousands of families one unexpected medical bill away from becoming homeless.
Other states are facing this same crisis in affordable housing and are addressing it by bonding, Last month Vermont issued $37 million in bonds to address that state's affordable housing needs. This month state legislators in Minnesota are looking at their Governor's proposal to issue a bond that includes $100 million of affordable housing while in Massachusetts legislators are debating their Governor's proposal to issue over $1 billion in bonds to address affordable housing needs. In November, California voters will have the chance to approve a ballot initiative to issue $4 billion in bonds for their state's affordable housing crisis.
Cities ranging from Portland, Oregon to Austin, Texas to Charleston, South Carolina, are issuing major bonds to be able to address their affordable housing shortfalls. I will not lie and pretend that I know all of the cities that are doing the same thing. I found all of these examples in a few minutes this morning by conducting a couple searches on Google.
I did so because I want to highlight the fact that bonding is one big and common way that state and local government is now working to create housing that low income families can afford. Every state and every city has low wage jobs and needs places to live for the people who do those jobs. Many parts of our country, including Utah, have not been building enough low income housing for decades and so they have now reached a crisis point where the lack of affordable housing is driving increases in homelessness.
Utah's housing crisis has gotten so bad that we now have more families than homes. That is why the Coalition of Religious Communities is challenging the Utah Legislature to issue $100 million in bonds to address Utah's housing crisis tomorrow morning at our Faith & Poverty Day at the Utah Capitol.
Everyone who cares about Utah's housing crisis is welcome to join us.
Utah should follow the example of many other states and bond to address the affordable housing crisis
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