Salt Lake City officials hope new plan will increase city’s housing stock

In the face of rising rents and an increasingly limited housing supply, the Salt Lake City Council unanimously adopted the Growing SLC Housing Plan that will guide housing policy for the next five years as the city seeks to increase its housing stock.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Councilmember Erin Mendenhall on the housing plan.  ” I can’t wait to get to work on this.”

The housing plan lays out a number of policy solutions that focus on updates to the zoning code, preservation of long-term affordable housing, the establishment of a significant funding source, stabilizing low-income tenants, innovation in design and collaboration to ensure equitable and fair housing citywide.

Just hours before adopting the housing plan, the council moved to incorporate 20 guiding principles and promote Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) into the plan’s final draft.  The guiding principles focus on equitable housing, leveraging city resources, inclusive zoning, ensuring affordable housing in areas of high opportunity and incentivize more missing middle housing citywide.

“The council’s historic vote tonight represents the culmination of nearly two years of work my team has done to create a path forward to build a city where everyone can live,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski.  “We are incredibly anxious to begin getting to work on implementing the solutions found in the plan.”

Directly after the council meeting, the Mayor Biskupski signed the first of a planned series of executive memos, that will direct the office of Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND) and relevant departments on how to best implement the housing plan. The first directive would require departments to craft an ordinance for the mayor’s review by January 31st, 2018, that would require affordable housing options on all property sold by the city.

The council’s adoption of the new housing plan arrives just as the city is experiencing historically low vacancy rates and unprecedented growth, especially in multifamily residential development.

This growth should continue in 2018 as more out-of-state developers begin to build in the region.  In October a group of real estate experts listed Salt Lake City as the third best market for real estate investment and development in 2018.  The list is part of the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in collaboration with the Urban Land Institute and provides a regional look at the country’s largest 78 real estate markets.

Additionally the research team at Apartment List, an online rental marketplace expects rents to continue to climb making it more difficult for low-income renters to find affordable housing.  Earlier this week the team at Apartment List released their 2017 Rental Market Trends Report and found that the median two-bedroom rent in Salt Lake City is $1050, up 6.3 percent since the same time last year. In comparison, the national median rent for a two-bedroom apartment increased just 2.7 percent year-over-year.  The team also found that from 2005 to 2016, the share of high-income renters in Salt Lake City increased by 1.5 percent, while the share of low-income renters decreased by 3.7 percent over the same period and that despite a significant increase in the overall rental stock, the rental stock at the lower end of the market continued to fall.

“There is a lot more work policy-wise to do from this position, but I think this is a great starting point and now we have a great roadmap,” said Councilmember Derek Kitchen.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at