During my tenure on Ogden City Council, I worked to ensure that community members had equitable opportunities for general well-being, in important areas such as health, education, employment and housing. . And throughout my tenure, I have constantly heard comments about high density housing and tenants insinuating that the people who live there and / or rent housing are not as valuable as those of us who own a house. These conversations make me uncomfortable for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is that I spent most of my life renting my own house or living with family members who were renters. The other reason is that these comments often serve to create or strengthen a community hierarchy that I didn’t agree to be a part of – are renters really less likely to be engaged residents and keep their homes well? maintained? Who knows where these ideas come from; maybe in the perfect American Dream scenario. These feelings are often masked by subtle or not-so-subtle statements about how property values will be negatively affected or that higher density housing will negatively affect the neighborhood – too much traffic, too little green space and the Like. Sometimes these concerns have merit, but they often also ignore the positive impacts of healthy economic diversity and responsibly planned higher density housing solutions. And I guess I’m not interested in saying, “Now that I have mine, too bad for everyone.” “
In truth, in our community there is simply not enough space to accommodate our growing population if we insist on maintaining the standards that were once the norm – the reality is that in 2020 there was a shortage. of 53,000 homes in Utah. In February, the Kem C. Gardner Institute of Policy reported that higher density housing in the Salt Lake County area over the past 10 years has not negatively affected the overall property values of single family homes; in fact, homes within half a mile of such developments have actually increased in value by about 10% on average per year. This report also debunked the myth of road congestion by citing a study by the National Personal Transportation Survey which found that “doubling density reduces the kilometers traveled by vehicles by 38%, because the densest households generally have less. vehicles ”. As for green spaces, it is possible to require that green spaces be retained in higher density developments and to provide for greater sustainability in terms of maintenance and use of water in the process. I am not advocating the elimination of public green spaces, but only looking at private and unoccupied land for what it really is – usually poorly maintained capital goods for those who are able to obtain and develop good. wealth over time.
Who are these tenants anyway? I can tell you that these are sometimes young adults who do not yet wish to take root more durably, but wish for the independence of their own space. These may be the elderly who do not want to take on the responsibility of looking after a house and a garden. These can be underemployed and / or underpaid people to the extent that they cannot be banked enough or financially credible enough to be approved for a home loan. It could be a married couple who both work full time but can barely pay the rent (which is probably more than a monthly mortgage payment). They are almost 44% of our friends and neighbors in Ogden. It’s 44% of people who buy goods and services here – it could be college employees, small business owners, designers / artists, industrial workers, or someone like you. So let’s all think about how we frame the conversation around who can live and have a space to live.
Angela Choberka is a member of the Ogden City Council representing District 1. She is currently running for re-election.