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Lawmakers support housing affordability panel but hold off on adding renters



Salt Lake City, Utah – A bill that would have added a renter and housing advocate to the state’s Commission on Housing Affordability was voted down by a legislative committee in Utah.

These two positions would “add some variety and voices that need to be represented,” according to House Government Operations Committee member Rep. Joel Briscoe, a Democrat from Salt Lake City, who testified before the committee last week.

But HB386 was held and not advanced by the House committee, which voted 5-3 to do so. Rep. Calvin Musselman, a Republican from West Haven, had concerns regarding the commission’s size and the addition of two new members.

“I think that 23 (commission members) is way too many,” Musselman said. “I think 21 is way too many.”

A tenant and housing advocate “would be able to contribute more than the professionals that are already serving” on the board, the Republican senator further questioned.

It all boils down to living experience, Briscoe retorted.

“A person who’s renting and dealing with renting sees it differently than a person who bills the apartments that those people rent out,” Briscoe said.

To offer guidance and input to the legislature and governor on measures to increase housing affordability in Utah, the Commission on Housing Affordability was established in 2018.

The Utah real estate market has grown very challenging for both tenants and buyers in recent years. Both prices and borrowing rates have increased dramatically. As of right now, the median home price in Utah is approximately $485,000, as reported by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

The Utah National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials and the Utah Housing Coalition also backed Briscoe’s bill.

Rep. Stephanie Gricius, R-Eagle Mountain, however, suggested delaying the bill rather than advancing it through the legislative process. This would allow the proposal to be reexamined before the end of the session next week.

“I do think there are probably some better ways we can adjust the makeup of this commission,” Gricius said, “but I don’t feel that just throwing additional people at it is necessarily the right step.”

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