Weber County commissioners approve moderate income housing plans

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 2:31 PM

Cathy McKitrick, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Weber County commissioners unanimously approved the addition of moderate income housing elements to the Ogden Valley and West Central Weber County general plans.

In doing so, Weber became the first of Utah’s 29 counties to study and complete such a collaborative process. With home costs skyrocketing in the 1990s, state lawmakers passed HB295 in 1996, urging communities to include affordable housing in their real estate mix.

“This has been a long time coming and we’re real proud of the time and effort that has brought us to this point,” said Weber County Planning Director Rob Scott.

Discussions began in 2010 with the Weber Area Council of Governments, Scott said, and nine cities signed on to the county’s effort: Hooper, North Ogden, Ogden, Plain City, Pleasant View, Roy, South Ogden, Washington Terrace and West Haven.

All the entities worked with Lotus Community Development and the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic Development and Research to gather data, solicit input from the community and key stakeholders, create a collective vision and establish a structure to carry the plan’s goals forward.

Utah’s home prices climbed 70 percent between 1992 and 1997, Marci Milligan, president of the Lotus Community Development board, told planning commissioners in both locales earlier this year.

According to the 2010 American Community Survey released by the U.S. Census, 36 percent of Utah homeowners with mortgages and 49 percent of renters pay more than 30 percent of their income toward housing.

However, Weber County is better positioned than some with its current stock of affordable housing. In 2011, its median sales price for a detached single-family home was $142,000, and $111,000 for condominiums, Milligan said.

However, in Ogden, many homes are old and in need of maintenance.

According to Milligan, about 30 percent or 20,000 area residents are moderate income while 50 percent rank in the low to moderate income category and represent one-fourth of the county. Milligan said that less than 10 percent of market-rate rental units are affordable to this segment of the population.

The moderate income housing plans adopted Tuesday should be updated every two years in accordance with new data, Scott said, and should focus on residents earning 80 percent or less of the area median income.

According to the U.S. Census, area median household income in Weber County is $54,666; 80 percent of that figure is $43,733.

The new plan’s goals include maintaining existing single-family housing stock and multi-family units, supplying affordable home ownership and rental options; providing housing choices in neighborhoods to meet the needs ofresidents as they age; installing tools to track the mix and condition of existing housing stock and providing resources for upgrades or new construction that will facilitate access and affordability for people with special needs.

“I’ve watched this process on several fronts,” said Commissioner Jan Zogmaister, saying the county went well above what the state required with HB295.

“This is really something that stands out,” she said, noting that investors from within and outside of the county view it as a valuable resource.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

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