New Moab development aims to put dent in workforce housing crisis

Apr 16, 2024, 9:45 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2024, 7:22 am

MOAB — When we talk about Utah’s housing crisis, one of the most extreme examples is Moab.

Housing there is scarce and expensive, especially for the workers who keep the tourist town running.

But one new development aims to put a dent in the problem by creating more affordable homes for those who need them most.

‘It’s rough’

Finding an affordable place to live in Moab is not easy. Just ask Heather Brooks.

“It’s rough,” said Brooks, who runs a daycare.

It took her a while to find a place that fit her budget.

“Rent would be $2,500 plus utilities, or even like $3,200 plus utilities,” Brooks said. “It’s kind of hard to make ends meet when you can’t even make that type of money.”

Then she discovered Arroyo Crossing – a 43-acre development on the edge of Moab.

“It’s a mix of townhomes, single-family homes, cottages, apartments,” said Kaitlin Myers, executive director of the Moab Area Community Land Trust, a non-profit that owns the land and partners with developers to get housing built.

The development is designed for families with low and moderate incomes. Myers described them as “the essential workforce, the people that really live and work in Moab.”

A rendering of planned housing in Moab, Utah, that hopes to ease the city’s extreme affordable housing crisis. (Utah Housing Corporation)

Developments like Arroyo Crossing are critical for Moab, where the median price of housing is around $540,000, according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

“It really is the only place that you can find new starter homes in Moab that are actually affordable,” Myers said.

New phases breaking ground

Three new phases of the development are breaking ground soon. They’re a mix of income-based housing for rent and for sale.

The 24-unit Confluence Cottages will be available for rent, while the 32-unit Skyline Arch will include housing set aside for “victims of domestic violence, persons experiencing homelessness, and persons with disabilities,” according to a news release from Utah Housing Corporation.

“There’s not a more challenging housing market in Utah than in Moab,” said David Damschen, president and CEO of Utah Housing Corporation, in a statement. “Our team at Utah Housing Corporation is thrilled with these opportunities to collaborate with our southeastern Utah community partners. Establishing attainable housing for Moab’s hospitality and tourism-driven workforce addresses significant need and aligns with UHC’s mission to create innovative housing solutions for Utahns.”

Another new section of the development will be known as Tract E Townhomes.

Ben Riley, director of the Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah, said there’s already a lot of interest even before any of these new buildings have gone up.

A rendering of planned housing in Moab, Utah, that hopes to ease the city’s extreme affordable housing crisis. (Utah Housing Corporation)

“It’s becoming one of the only types of housing that people can afford,” Riley said.

Arroyo Crossing will eventually have 300 units of affordable housing, although the need is much bigger than that. But leaders believe it is making a difference.

“I feel like I see the impact with every project,” Riley said.

Back at her daycare center, Brooks said she believes the new housing units will “help out tremendously.”

She’s excited to watch the construction right outside her window.

“Moab is such a busy, busy place,” Brooks said. “For all the workers to be able to stay here, they need a place to live that’s affordable.”

The new housing units are set to be finished by the summer of 2025.

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New Moab development aims to put dent in workforce housing crisis