Salt Lake City is a city of renters, and renting is getting more expensive. Rents increased in the city by 19 percent in 2021 and have more than doubled in the past ten years.
Nearly half of the city’s population (48 percent) lives in rented homes as compared with other areas of Utah, which have only a 26 percent share of the renter population, according to a study of renter demographics completed by the University of Utah Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. However, the west side of Salt Lake City, specifically City Council Districts 1 and 2, has the second and third highest homeowner population, according to the 2020 Salt Lake City Data Book.
Even so the renter population on the west side is greater than 40 percent but much lower than the 82 percent in downtown Salt Lake City and 98 percent in the area surrounding the University of Utah, statistics show. According to the 2019 Change Atlas also completed by the Gardner Policy Institute and using the American Community Survey of the US Census, the owner-occupied vs rental-occupied households have changed very little since 2008 with a slight increase of 1 percent citywide, 0.2 percent increase in District 1 and a 0.7 increase in District 2. District 4 (downtown) had the highest increase of owner-occupied homes at 2.4 percent.
What has changed is monthly rental costs. The city’s one-year rental increase of 19 percent is slightly higher than the national average of 18 percent, according to the Apartment List report. In addition, the rent from 2011 until 2021 has more than doubled.
Only two percent of apartments of all types in Salt Lake City cost less than $1,000 a month, with 56 percent of apartments costing $1,000 to $1,199 and 33 percent over $2,000. Using the 30-percent-of-salary-for-rent rule, a person needs an annual salary of $56,124 to rent a studio apartment, $62,496 to rent a one-bedroom apartment, $82,836 to rent a two-bedroom apartment and $96,912 to rent a three-bedroom apartment, according to the report.
According to the Utah Apartment Association, the rise in rents in the city is due to a higher demand than supply and the fact that housing prices are rising so quickly, making it harder for people to afford to buy. In addition, general inflation is also adding to rental costs.
Those who need help due to the rising rental costs can contact one of the following nonprofit entities for assistance including: Asian Association of Utah, Housing Authority of Utah, Catholic Community Services, YMCA of Salt Lake City, Community Action Services, Family Connection Center, Lantern House, International Rescue Committee, Jewish Family Service, Jordan Education Foundation, Latino Community Information and Education Center, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake City, Rescue Mission of Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Housing and Neighborhood Development Division, Salt Lake Community Action Program, Salvation Army, Salt Lake County Grants and Legal Aid, Utah Housing Coalition, the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City, Utah Nonprofit Housing Corporation and Salt Lake Community Action Program.
The above programs can provide loans or grants for rent and utilities for qualifying persons or families. The funding is limited, usually income-based and most require a formal application process.The goal of many of the programs is to prevent evictions, keep people in their homes and apartments, or to reduce homelessness. The low income, elderly, people with children, and disabled generally receive priority.
According to the National Low Income Housing Association, there is a shortage of affordable rental homes available to families in Utah whose incomes are at or below poverty guidelines (around $50,000 for a family of four in Salt Lake City). Many of these households are severely cost burdened, spending more than half their income on housing. The study shows that low-income households are more likely than other renters to sacrifice other necessities like healthy food and healthcare to pay for rent and to experience unstable housing situations like evictions. Families with low incomes in Salt Lake City are also twice as likely to be renters as those of higher incomes, according to City-Data.com, and 86.6 percent are people of color.
Vouchers to help low-income Salt Lake City families pay their rent through a US Department of Housing and Urban Development program are available through the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City but due to demand waiting for a voucher can take more than two years.