Housing costs in Utah are skyrocketing. And according to a recent report from the University of Utah, that increase is unlikely to subside over the next few years.
Housing stability is becoming increasingly inaccessible to workers across the country, and the people of Utah have been hit particularly hard. The University of Utah report, “The State of the State Housing Market,” found that housing affordability declined across all income brackets between 2015 and 2019, and that Last year alone, Utah saw a 10% increase in the average rental rate and a 30.6% increase in the median sale price of a single-family home.
In June 2021, 40% of Utah renters were identified as “cost heavy” (paying more than 30% of their income on rent), and 20% of Utah renters were “severely overburdened” ( paying more than 50% of their rental income).
Utah’s population has grown 18% over the past decade, the fastest of any state in the country. While wages lag far behind the rising cost of living nationwide, Utah’s record population growth has far outstripped the supply of housing, making housing costs across the state even more extreme in recent years. During the current pandemic and economic crisis, things have not improved.
In fact, in order to avoid a severe recession, the housing capitalists and the Federal Reserve made housing more inaccessible during the pandemic! University of Utah researchers point out that the Federal Reserve “injected an extraordinary level of liquidity into the capital markets, which in turn lowered interest rates and produced a real estate boom with the strongest price increase in a single year of housing history “. In Utah, that meant the percentage of renters who couldn’t afford the home at the median price fell from 63.1% in 2019 to 72.8% in 2020.
As the Federal Reserve has once again demonstrated its explicit loyalty to the ruling class, which has increased its wealth to billions (if not trillions) in 2020, the working class has been left unprotected against deadly disease, lost jobs and income, crippling medical debt accumulated, and now workers face 11 million evictions as the federal moratorium on evictions was allowed to expire by unelected Supreme Court justices.
Even Congress-approved emergency rental aid has been grossly misused and underdistributed. In fact, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which tracked the disbursement of the funds, noted that only about $ 8.5 billion of the total of $ 46.5 billion allocated was distributed. They note that the main obstacles to disbursement are unnecessary obstacles to enforcement and red tape by state governments, as well as low ownership participation. In Utah, reporters recently discovered that Utah had completely abused these relief funds by paying the legal bills related to the eviction of landlords to help them evict the tenants, rather than giving relief funds. to tenants.
The University of Utah report notes that historically house prices are only forced down when huge masses of workers are unemployed and unable to pay their rents or mortgages. Of course, this type of crisis also results in increased monopolization and privatization of the housing market by the real estate billionaires.
An economic system that sees only reduced housing costs alongside a major unemployment crisis is inhumane and unacceptable. Housing activists across the country, including in Utah, are rallying to demand that the government cancel rents and ensure affordable housing for all.
On September 26, PSL Salt Lake hosted a housing rally where activists spoke about solutions to the housing crisis and offered help to community members who needed to apply for funds to help the housing crisis. state rent. A speaker, Dodge Hovermale, pointed out that “the only way to win COVID help, canceled rents, a sustainable eviction moratorium and affordable housing is to organize in the classroom – defending ourselves. same!
The newly opened Salt Lake Liberation Center continues the housing struggle by organizing tenants in the area to speak out against housing injustices and fight evictions. “We organized door-to-door activities in the Salt Lake neighborhoods. We tell tenants that the state has provided $ 135 million in emergency rent relief for them. The form only takes 20 minutes to complete, but so far we haven’t seen any tenants who knew the money was available, ”said Denise Weaver, organizer of the Salt Lake Liberation Center. “There are hundreds of thousands of tenants in Utah who are at risk of eviction, but the state is not making any real effort to stop this. The only way to guarantee our housing rights is to organize ourselves together. “
Photo: Release News