2020 Bills

SB 39: Making Taxpayers Subsidize Others’ Housing Costs

This bill passed the senate with a vote of 16-11, and passed the house with a vote of 48-24.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it violates our principles and must therefore be opposed.

Many Utahns are struggling with rising housing costs. By way of example, one analysis suggests that housing prices in Salt Lake County climbed 80 percent between 2005 and 2019.

Supply and demand needs to work in housing; as demand increases, supply must be allowed to rise to match. Unfortunately, many housing projects are shot down by neighbors who use the force of government to deny a property owner the ability to construct, say, high density apartments on their land, provided that they mitigate parking, utility usage, traffic, etc. Using zoning to restrict construction of new housing supply causes prices to increase.

In the mean time, families struggle to find affordable housing. In the past, state officials created the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund to require taxpayers to provide financial assistance to low income individuals needing housing, and to incentivize the construction of affordable apartments.

Senator Jake Anderegg is sponsoring Senate Bill 39 this year to appropriate an additional $30 million in taxpayer dollars this year, and 10 million each year thereafter, to increasingly support this program.

This is a redistribution of wealth and not the proper role of government. While we sympathize with those struggling with housing costs, the solution is not to subsidize them with taxpayer dollars. Such efforts should be left to families and private charities—or affected families should reconsider their living arrangement and location to find a more affordable solution.