POLITICS & ELECTIONS

These bills aim to make homeownership more attainable for Utahns

Feb 14, 2024, 6:23 PM | Updated: Feb 15, 2024, 7:08 am

SALT LAKE CITY — If you live in Utah, you probably know someone who wants to buy their first home but can’t.

Buyers are facing high prices and high mortgage rates.

On Utah’s Capitol Hill, lawmakers say they’re trying to help by pushing a number of housing-related bills.

Rep. Stephen Whyte, R-Mapleton, is sponsoring two measures aimed at improving the process at the local level for getting new homes approved and built. (KSL TV)

“It streamlines the processes to be able to help increase the supply of homes,” said Whyte, speaking of HB465 and HB476, both of which passed out of committees this week.

Whyte said his bills also strive to clarify ambiguity in existing state law that he said is causing confusion with builders and cities.

His bills are supported by the Utah League of Cities and Towns, which often opposes telling municipalities what to do.

“I applaud the approach of legislative leaders to say, let’s be collaborative and work in a partnership rather than coming in trying to take away the authority of local governments,” said Cam Diehl, the organization’s executive director.

Utah lawmakers eye changes to first-time homebuyer program

Another bill, SB168, deals with building modular homes and getting construction costs down, and it makes some changes to Utah’s first-time homebuyer program. In addition to that, KSL TV is told other housing measures are coming before the end of the session.

“These bills are intended to try to unlock housing units that have already been planned for, that have already been zoned for, but are stuck right now because of high interest rates or infrastructure costs,” Diehl said.

Outside his new townhome in Magna Wednesday afternoon, Hunter Gore played with his new puppy.

Hunter Gore just bought a new home a few months ago in Magna. (KSL TV)

“I like the new area,” he said. “Everything’s new, they landscape it pretty nice.”

He became a homeowner after wondering if he’d ever be able to afford in Utah. He wishes the prices and mortgage rates were lower, but he’s in – and he’s grateful.

“It was definitely a big accomplishment,” Gore“ said. “Definitely super happy about it.”

Asked if state leaders are doing enough to make housing affordable for people like him, Gore said he didn’t think so.

“There needs to be something done as far as make it easier,” he said.

Whyte said he believes these bills – along with past legislation – will yield results and help people get into homes cheaper and faster.

“That’s the goal,” Whyte said. “I believe…we will be able to help increase the supply of homes.”

This comes at a critical time for Utah’s housing market. A recent state audit warned Utah needs to build nearly 28,000 housing units a year just to keep up with growth.

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These bills aim to make homeownership more attainable for Utahns