Ghosts and goblins have a better chance of finding affordable housing than young couples in Utah.
Today, when developers in Utah claim to build “affordable housing”, they are now talking about two-bedroom townhomes that can sell for around $400,000. So homeless advocates had to come up with a new term: “deeply-affordable housing”, which is housing for around $200,000- $300,000. The only problem is that even housing in this price range is now an impossible goal (without subsidies) under current market conditions.
What this means for the average first-time home buyer in Utah in real terms is that including HOA fees, property taxes, and insurance, it’s now $2,950 per month to own even a very small home in Utah. Even with dual incomes over $50K per year, nearly half of earnings are going to pay a mortgage.
With the Federal Reserve currently combating inflation via increases in interest rates, home prices are falling. They dropped by nearly $10K on average in Utah already. So should buyers wait? “Don’t be afraid to buy a home, but just plan on holding it for at least five to seven years,” said Eric Gardner, a local Utah real estate agent on the Utah Stories show.
Utah Stories has been extensively covering housing and homelessness for the past eight months on our Utah Stories Show. We believe that these are the most important issues receiving little coverage by local mainstream media. In the nearly nine months of covering this topic, we have reached a few salient conclusions:
- Housing affordability is no longer a function of free-market principles of supply and demand but it is moreover a function of NIMBYISM. Fewer politicians and homeowners are willing to adapt to projects that might impact property values: affordable-housing projects, such as manufactured-home or tiny-home communities are not getting green-lighted anywhere where it’s truly needed. This fear and protectionism that the wrong type of neighbors might move into their backyard is the main driver of housing in Utah (as well as every major city in the West) becoming unaffordable.
- Housing in Utah could become affordable virtually overnight if government leaders began working for service-sector, working-class residents. They could work for their interests by insisting on the relaxation of zoning laws in every city and county along the Wasatch Front calling for tiny home communities and manufactured-home communities. Zoning laws in the United States are some of the strictest in the world. They are elitist, classist, and racist in nature. (Search the Supreme Court Case “VILLAGE OF EUCLID V. AMBLER REALTY CO). Zoning laws are written to keep the poor out of rich neighborhoods and to monopolize and lock-down land under the auspices of “protection”. The reality is that zoning laws are designed to maintain elevated property values for those who have enjoyed the upward trajectory of home and land prices for decades.
- A good supply of affordable housing is a much better option than government-sponsored, tax-payer financed “housing projects”, vouchers or “Housing First: Long-Term Supportive Care”. Why? Because when recent college graduates, working-class professionals, and seniors can purchase homes (and not depend on the government), they enjoy greater freedom through ownership. Acquiring home equity is the greatest form of non-taxable wealth-creation Americans can enjoy, but those who have it shouldn’t prevent others from getting their share, too. Every decent MLM in Utah knows this!
- Former President George W. Bush famously promoted the “Ownership Society” by pressuring banks to reduce interest rates and introduce more options for first-time homebuyers. Banks realized this was an opportunity for them to get wildly rich. The subprime loan fiasco didn’t end well in 2008, with the housing bubble bursting and the collapse of the financial sector. This collapse led to fewer homes being built over the subsequent decade. Certainly, a big part of the American Dream includes home ownership. But since the housing bubble, monopolizing housing units for the rich, and elite investment firms have become the new normal. If this continues, it will only lead to economic stagnation, as fewer people will be able to become financially independent and be able to start businesses, and retire comfortably.
- “Millennials” and GenY and iGen (those who are in their early forties to early twenties) are often the butt of jokes by GenXers and Boomers, but they are facing a serious disadvantage compared to prior generations when homeownership is out of reach. With home prices becoming so astronomically expensive, it becomes much more difficult for them to enjoy vacations; afford raising children, and have disposable income to set aside for savings.
- Housing unaffordability is in part by design. I’m not a big conspiracy theorist, but there is indeed a mountain of evidence that suggests that big banks and the financial elites ― as well as the Good ‘Ol Boys Club here in Utah ― love limiting the supply of affordable housing so that a huge population of cash-strapped renters will continue making them rich. The sentiment is displayed via the elites in Davos: “The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.”
― Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder, and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.
Banking and corporate overlords can much more easily get a handle on ensuring your money, and labor is under their control when fewer people are able to afford their own homes. Is the Great Reset Coming? If we don’t take control, things will certainly become worse.
Do Your Part
Stop taking “No” for an answer. We can develop affordable housing in Utah if zoning laws are relaxed. If we insist that more farmers practice even minimal conservation efforts, there is plenty of water to go around. We just need to insist that our political leaders start working for our interests rather than the special interests ― the home builders, developers and banks who finance their campaigns. We call on you to attend your City Council meetings, write to your representatives in the State Legislature, and help end these dismal trends. But you need to become involved.
Watch a recent episode of the Utah Stories Show where we present Logan Moffett, a Utah investor who attempted to develop a park full of manufactured homes in Centerfield, Utah for $100,000 each, and how and why he was shut down by the city leadership.
And to our fellow Millennials, let’s enjoy our $15 cocktails while renting one-bedroom studio apartments for outrageous amounts. At least we can have our cocktails and drink them too. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that our world just might be taken over by corporate ghouls collecting rent, and zombies who have no other options than working their entire lives for the man.
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