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A Red-State Take on a YIMBY Housing Bill

Utah’s SB 34, aimed at increasing the state’s supply of affordable housing, may hold lessons for booming cities of the Mountain West, and beyond.
A new subdivision under construction in South Jordan, Utah.
A new subdivision under construction in South Jordan, Utah.Douglas C. Pizac/AP

The U.S. housing affordability crisis is national in its scope, but media coverage tends to focus on California cities like San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles, where skyrocketing rents and a blossoming YIMBY (“Yes In My Backyard”) movement have incited a response from lawmakers. In his inaugural address earlier this year, newly elected California Governor Gavin Newsom called for a “Marshall Plan” for affordable housing that would add 500,000 new homes in the Golden State per year.

But the fastest home price appreciation in 2018 didn’t happen in California, New York, Washington State, or other coastal states. It hit Nevada, where cities like Las Vegas, Reno, and Carson City are returning to the prices not seen since the 2008 bubble. Mid-size Colorado cities Boulder and Fort Collins top the list of cities with a high percentage of households spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, with rates nearing 60 percent. And an increasing number of high-school graduates in cities like Boise and Salt Lake City are finding themselves priced out of their local housing market altogether.