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Opinion: The solution to Utah’s housing crisis? We need to ‘make room for new neighbors’

With a growing population and a shortage of homes, housing prices are rising out of control. Solutions require some sacrifice

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A “Now Leasing” sign for a new apartment building.

A “Now Leasing” sign for a new apartment building in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, April 1, 2022. The housing shortage has many concerned about the new apartment pop-ups in their neighborhoods.

Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

Jeff McCarthy’s recent op-ed about the impact of Salt Lake City’s building boom on historic neighborhoods and green space raises some valid concerns, but should be considered in the context of Utah’s housing crisis.

The Kem C. Gardner Institute estimates that Utah has a shortage of about 44,500 homes. We need to continue building homes to keep up with population growth. A home shortage will increase prices and make covert historic neighborhoods into exclusive enclaves of the wealthy.

While new apartment building aesthetics could be improved, this multifamily construction is a crucial part of the solution to our housing crisis. On the other hand, as McCarthy notes, smaller-scale townhouses, duplexes and triplexes are valuable tools for increasing housing supply while maintaining a smaller neighborhood scale. We need a wide variety of housing to meet needs.

Cities can’t be museum exhibits frozen in time. Rather, they should change in response to the needs of current and future residents. The cost of arresting urban change will be a city that few can afford to live in. We should make room for new neighbors while protecting those who already call our communities home. Salt Lake City’s Thriving in Place initiative is an important part of striking that balance.

Anders Hart

Salt Lake City