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Provo Council adopts moderate-income housing strategies report

By Genelle Pugmire - | Sep 21, 2022

Courtesy Brighton Development

The front approach to new condos being built at The Mix at Rivers Edge is shown in renderings supplied March 23, 2021.

The Provo Municipal Council passed a resolution during Tuesday’s meeting adopting a Moderate-Income Housing Supply and Strategies Report.

The resolution will become an addendum to part of the city’s updated general plan.

Communities throughout the state are required to report strategies they will use to provide moderate-to-low-income housing for residents. The deadline to file the basic housing strategies report with the state is Oct. 1.

One required piece of information is the number of accessory dwelling units in the city, as most of them are affordable and meet the needs of medium-income tenants.

There are 440 legally registered ADUs in Provo, according to Brandon Larson, city planner. Therefore, about 2.4% of Provo homes have registered ADUs. However, Larson believes there are many more that are not legally registered.

Then you have to factor in the approximately 30,000 students who live in Provo. Larson noted that those numbers will always be figured in the mix as most live in the moderate-to-low-income range.

If the student living units could be pulled out of the equation then Provo City staff would have a broader ability to see if Provo has enough medium-income housing to meet the state requirements, according to Larson.

“Moderate housing may not be as bad as it looks,” Larson said. “It’s a fallacy that adding more ADUs will fix our housing demand. We could build for 10 years and still not meet the current need.”

Larson also said, that instead of looking at the numbers  in black and white, the city has to look at these issues holistically.

Councilman Bill Fillmore, during the council work session, inquired about a current audit of medium-income housing being conducted by the state and if those numbers would be available soon. Larson indicated the state audit and final report will not be completed until next year.

The city is required to adopt three high level strategies from the list of 24 high level strategies provided by the state.

To have more medium-income housing, Provo is considering making available zones with smaller lot sizes and convincing developers to build less costly homes. The city can also look at taking uninhabitable homes, fixing infrastructure and selling them to families and individuals.

To qualify a person must make 60% to 80% of the average median income.

“Modern income strategies demonstrate curing deficiencies,” Larson said. “I’m not aware of anything deficient in this coming year’s report.”

What Provo must do is select strategies that are considered by state code to be “higher level ideas.”

“We are also required to show improvement and are required to do annual reports. We have to submit a report to the state and the state checks to see if we comply,” Larson said. “Right now we are in compliance with ADU statutes.”

Fillmore asked if this process was for the legislature to see if their wishes are being met. Larson noted that if the reports aren’t turned in there is city funding that could be affected.

Larson also noted that the report is just a report for information — not policy. One of the concerns, according to Larson, is that while Provo looks like the leader in the state for medium-income housing, there is a shortage.

“We’re just changing the inventory names (what types of housing) but we’re not increasing housing,” Larson said.

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