Legislators punt on adding renter, advocate to housing affordability panel

Feb 19, 2024, 8:45 PM

A Utah legislative committee voted not to advance a bill that would have added a renter and housing...

A Utah legislative committee voted not to advance a bill that would have added a renter and housing advocate to the state’s Commission on Housing Affordability. (KSL TV)


SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah legislative committee voted not to advance a bill that would have added a renter and housing advocate to the state’s Commission on Housing Affordability.

Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, told the House Government Operations Committee last week adding those two spots to the 21-member commission “would add some variety and voices that need to be represented.”

But the House committee voted 5-3 to hold HB386 and not move it forward. Rep. Calvin Musselman, R-West Haven, expressed concern about the size of the commission and adding two more members.

“I think that 23 (commission members) is way too many,” Musselman said. “I think 21 is way too many.”

The Republican lawmaker also questioned whether a renter and housing advocate “would be able to contribute more than the professionals that are already serving” on the commission.

Briscoe responded it comes down to lived experience.

“A person who’s renting and dealing with renting sees it differently than a person who bills the apartments that those people rent out,” Briscoe said.

The Commission on Housing Affordability was created in 2018 to provide advice and feedback to the governor and Legislature on ways to improve housing affordability in Utah.

Over the last few years, the housing market in Utah has become incredibly difficult for buyers and renters. Prices have skyrocketed, and mortgage rates have risen. Utah’s current statewide median home price sits around $485,000, according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

Briscoe’s bill was supported by the Utah Housing Coalition and the Utah National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.

But rather than moving the bill through the legislative process, Rep. Stephanie Gricius, R-Eagle Mountain, proposed holding it, which could allow the measure to be reconsidered before the end of the session next week.

“I do think there are probably some better ways we can adjust the makeup of this commission,” Gricius said, “but I don’t feel that just throwing additional people at it is necessarily the right step.”

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Legislators punt on adding renter, advocate to housing affordability panel