Housing issues grow as construction booms in Cache Valley

Scott Christensen plays with his daughters outside of their Hyrum townhouse. His family recently moved to Cache Valley from Salt Lake City where rent was more expensive than here in Cache Valley.

LOGAN – There is a housing crisis in Cache Valley and in Utah and as matter of fact there is a housing crisis across the county.

Dan Richins of Richmond takes a break form working on a home in Hyrum Wednesday.

In Cache Valley, homes are going up at an increasing rate from Richmond to Paradise and everywhere in between. And so are people looking for affordable homes.

Janice Williams at Abode Realty, an agent active in both Cache County and Franklin County, ID, said there is an increase number of buyers trying to buy homes in Cache Valley.

There are 99 homes on the market in Cache Valley from single wide to $6 million homes,” she said. “There is also an increased number of buyers wanting to enter the market right now.”

There are first time home buyers, families moving up or out of town buyers. Home sellers are getting multiple offers the second a really good home that is priced correctly goes on the market.

“When buyers can’t find what they want in Cache County they start looking in Idaho,” she said. “In Franklin County there are only 20 single family homes on the market.”

With low interest rates people can buy a house for what rent is costing.

A Track Hoe digs trenches in new subdivision at the south end of the valley,

“It’s hard and it is a new challenge,” she said. “Land developers are gobbling up land as fast as they can find it,” she said. “Even condos are more expensive than it has been in the past.”

Josh Runhaar, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Solutions, said to him it is all about it is all about semantics.

Affordable housing carries with it a connotation of housing for the poor, under-employed, those people, etc.” he said. “When in reality, it is a housing affordability problem – people simply cannot afford housing.”

He said a lot of the people that have issues affording housing are civic workers (teachers, police, fire, USU employees, etc.), health care professionals, recent college graduates early in their career, and trades people (plumbers, electricians, etc.).

“We also work with single parents and families of all sizes, compositions, and ages. And it isn’t just buying a home, it is also rising rents across the board,” Runhaar said. “The core issue is housing costs are going up far faster than incomes.”

Home buying demand is consistently increasing, 65 percent of the growth being internal (our children) but 3 percent is net migration. People leaving states like California for what they deem as more affordable living in Utah.

Dave Hamblin prepares a column for a rock face Wed. Sept. 23.

Runhaar said the housing value in Cache County has increased by 133 percent in the last 20 years, 45 percent in the last five years.

For CAPSA Executive Director Jill Anderson there is another troubling housing issue: families that need housing and there is no place to go.

“We have 175 families, about 350 adults and kids, a vast majority have a hard time finding housing,” she said. “So, we developed our own housing. We own 28 units.”

CAPSA built or purchased housing for clients to use until they can get on their feet.

“We have federal grants that help with rental assistance,” Anderson said. “We can’t find affordable long-term living accommodations for our families.”

The organization still needs 140 units for clients. Even with jobs, CAPSA clients can’t find affordable housing in Cache Valley.

What happens is we start to push them in to the system and it pushes our lower income clients into the cracks,” she said. “If people in normal situations are struggling with housing, then you can imagine what it does to the individuals in lower income brackets.”

Home construction at the south end of Cache Valley continues to grow.

She said the solution is not only looking at increasing housing, but employers and authorities need look at pay scales and income levels as well.

“When you are looking at people effected by domestic violence that are down to only having their basic needs to exist,” she said. “It’s hard them to make enough to live a comfortable lifestyle and give back to the community.”

Brian Carver, the community and economic developer for the Bear River Association of Governments, said they are seeing a lot of demand for help with housing.

“We’ve got people coming in every month looking for help with rent,” he said. “There are people that were laid off because of COVID-19. With the extra payments ending in July, (it) has put people in a tricky spot.”

Another concern for BRAG is the moratorium on evictions for delinquent payments.

Construction tools on site in Hyrum City as home construction continues to change the look of the south end of the valley.

“Not being evicted for lack of payments just kicks the can down the road,” Carver said. “When people don’t have to pay the rent, they spend the money on other things.

“BRAG is stuck between a rock and a hard place. We can get them into an apartment, but they need to be able to pay their way,” Carver said. “They don’t necessarily have to meet the financial requirements, but they need to at least be able to pay rent, medical expenses and food.”

While construction continues, so does the divide for families wanting and needing a place to call home.

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  • Rachel Crossley September 25, 2020 at 2:04 pm Reply

    You guys are clearly in need of a proofreader.
    There is a housing crisis in Cache Valley and in Utah and as matter of fact there is a housing crisis across the country*.
    “BRAG is stuck between a rock and a hard place. We can get them* into an apartment, but *they need to be able to pay their way,” Carver said.
    Next time, can I get paid? (:

  • Trevor Silva September 25, 2020 at 6:55 pm Reply

    Logan city is contributing to this. Their housing ordinance that doesn’t allow more than 3 non related persons live in the same house is forcing people to rent out 2 and 3 bedroom apartments to a single person, rather then a family. It’s an unnecessary ordinance and it’s keeping single moms from finding affordable rent, or a newly married couple still in school.

  • Angel September 25, 2020 at 7:24 pm Reply

    I just had to move out of Cache Valley because of this very reason. Not only is rent outrageously expensive (most lower income people’s entire paycheck) but they want perfect credit, expensive application fees and if you have pets you can forget it.
    Wages are low even for well trained workers. For this reason I had to pack up my kids and move to a smaller town with a cheaper cost of living even though I loved living in Logan. ?

  • B September 27, 2020 at 10:32 am Reply

    My family has three working adults in our tiny home, and we can barely afford rent. The sadest part is that rent for us is even low compared to what others pay for a house. And we were lucky to even be able to bring our pets (at an outrageous cost). I’ve been saying for years that housing in this valley is out of hand expensive.

  • Dante September 29, 2020 at 12:07 am Reply

    This is why we need a housing union

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