Council Favors Regional Approach To Affordable Housing Problems

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The town clearly has a housing problem, Community Development Director Bob Gould told the Payson Town Council Thursday, referring to a report compiled by the town's Affordable Housing Committee.


The six-member committee worked with Gould and spent a year studying local demographics, wages, housing prices and other factors that affect housing affordability to develop the 18-page report.


They listed a number of reasons for the town's affordable housing problem. Among the reasons given were:


• The economy is based on the retail and service industries and jobs that do not pay a living wage;


• An attitude about local government that it should not have a role in providing housing assistance;


• Land and housing costs increasing at a more rapid rate than household income.


The community takes a dim view of multiple housing complexes, Gould told the council during the hour-long special meeting, and the town doesn't offer any incentives to encourage the development of affordable housing.


Payson has some of the highest development impact fees in the state, Gould said, which discourages the development of affordable housing.


"We recognize water is the most critical issue," Gould said. "But there's a two-to-three year waiting list to get into affordable apartments."


Councilmember Jack Monschein said the town's development fees, which include a $3,785 water-development fee per residential unit, could be lowered for affordable housing projects.


"But I'm not saying we should take away development fees," he said. "We need that for water."


Councilmember Ken Murphy asked Gould if the community's affordable housing needs were being met outside town limits.


Gould said the committee's study was limited to Payson, "but housing and building is a town problem."


Mayor Vern Stiffler, however, disagreed.


"I don't think we can solve this as a town," he said. "We've got to expand this beyond our borders."


But Affordable Housing Committee member Richard Croy told the council that he thinks the affordable housing problem is as bad in the satellite communities around Payson as it is in Payson itself.


Gould asked the council to make the Affordable Housing Committee a permanent town committee to advise the council on affordable-housing issues, prepare annual reports, coordinate yearly housing summits and prepare an affordable housing report to be included in the town's Corporate Strategic Plan.


The committee also should be responsible for a community-wide affordable housing education and marketing program, he said.


Croy suggested that the committee partner with other groups to bring more affordable housing to Payson.


The council agreed to put the committee in charge of another project, possibly a partnership with the county.


"I think if the town is interested in partnering, (District One Supervisor) Ron Christensen would be interested," Croy said. "Somebody's got to step up to the plate first."

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