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Cache County Housing Crisis Task Force Findings

October 16, 2023 by Nicole Mason
Housing

Sent in by Stephen Nelson

Rising housing prices have been one of the most challenging problems faced by Planners in Utah. The high cost of housing is a “wicked problem,” meaning there are so many interdependent factors that there is no one clear solution. In 2022, the Cache County Executive formed a housing crisis task force to review the rapidly rising housing costs in Cache County. It comprised 50 people from both the private and public sectors, with various community interests, including economic development, planning, real estate, public health, and developers and elected leaders. This committee reviewed the data and produced a report summarizing the primary issues they found with housing costs within Cache County (Cache County Housing Task Force, 2023). The report found that the housing cost increase was partly due to significant demand with limited supply. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute population projections found that Cache County will need “11,600 additional housing units between now and 2030 to accommodate new household growth (Eskic, 2022)” and that around 85% of the anticipated growth would be due to “Natural Increase” between now and 2060. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The committee also found that zoning within the County artificially restricted housing options. The report cited that:

Existing city codes and general plans encourage low-density residential, single-use zoning. City councils, planning commissions, and city staff exhibit their biases against allowing a variety of housing types and are reluctant to consider anything controversial (Cache County Housing Task Force 2023, p 4).  

 

In addition, the report stated: 

 

Members of the public push the idea that any housing density higher than in their neighborhood will depress property values. More than half a dozen studies refute that notion, and several point out statistically significant increases in property values” (Cache County Housing Task Force 2023, p 4). 

The report then made several recommendations about policy changes at the Federal, County, and City levels. In addition, there were recommendations for the local universities and colleges, school districts, private and non-profit organizations, the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce, and public outreach recommendations. 

The task force made the following top three recommendations:

  •  Zoning reform at the county and city levels, limit zoning by referendum at the state level. 
  • Public education campaign with an emphasis on reaching younger people who are close to or at home-ownership life-stages. Educational videos about our housing market.
  • Coordinated County and city planning for growth. (Cache County Housing Task Force 2023, p 6).

 

You can find a full copy of the report at the following link: Cache County Housing Crisis Task Force Report. 

 

Cache County applied for and received a grant from the Utah Ombudsman’s Office to produce and advertise two videos to provide public education about the housing crisis and increase costs within the County. Cache County’s Executive Office, County Wide Planning Program, and members of the Task Force collaborated to create these videos to provide education to the residents and policymakers within the County. 

 

You can watch them here:

Housing Crisis Task Force Website

Housing for Our Families (Vidoe)

Planning for Growth (Video)

The County has started the advertising process, which will largely be pushed on social media but also sent to each City and their respective Mayors and City Councilmembers within the County. The goals of these videos are to raise awareness of the issue of rising housing prices and its overall impact on the residents and businesses of the County. 

References:

Wood, J., Eskic, D., Benway, DJ, & Macdonald-Poelman, K. (2020, November). Housing Affordability: What Are Best Practices and Why Are They Important? Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. (https://gardner.utah.edu/wp-content/uploads/Best-Practices-Dec2020.pdf) 

Cache County Housing Crisis Task Force, (2023, March). Cache County Housing Crisis Task Force Report. Cache County. (https://www.cachecounty.org/assets/department/executive/3_9_23%20Housing%20Crisis%20Task%20Force%20Report.pdf)

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