Fifth in a series of blogs from the recently Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. Today's topic - housing costs.
QUESTION #4: How do you propose we balance continued cost increases in housing against the slow rise in wages?
This is a pressing problem for Cache Valley. We’re not a generally high-income community, and we have a growing problem of housing affordability. I don’t think this is a problem that can be solved by just an increase in number of houses or new high paying jobs. Those won’t address the whole problem.
Two areas that need additional thought are the very low wages at the bottom of the wage scale, and the gap between the wages or salaries of moderate-income workers, which includes many who work in essential services, and what one needs to buy a house in Cache Valley.
People employed in essential services include nurses, police, firefighters, social workers, teachers, employees of non-profits, and many others. If we want people employed in essential services to be able to afford to live here, we need to build the kinds of housing they want and can afford. The same applies to many young families; we need to build the kinds of housing they want and can afford or they won’t be able to live here. I have talked with a lot of people about housing affordability, which is not my area of expertise, and they have good, new ideas about how to make progress. These are local community decisions, and this is another area where we need better public dialog and better ability to work together. We need to talk seriously about the problem and about possible solutions. And then we need to act together.