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Low-income housing lacking in Centerville
by BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Jan 12, 2013 | 831 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

CENTERVILLE –  If you make less than $35,750 a year, you may have trouble finding a place to live in Centerville. 

A recent, voluntary evaluation by the Centerville Planning Commission showed that the city’s stock of multi-family housing is below the state average.   Multi-family units, which include apartment buildings, are often seen as low-income housing. 

Since the city’s stock of townhomes and duplexes is higher than the state average, it still met the required levels for moderate income housing. In Davis County, a moderate income is $57,200 a year. 

“We’ve met the state’s expectations on moderate-income housing, but that doesn’t mean we should stick our heads in the sand,” said Centerville Community Development Director Cory Snyder. “We need to remember there are people below that level.” 

The commission chose to evaluate the city based on Envision Utah’s suggested percentages for open market housing. According to a 2002 report by Envision Utah, a city is meeting balanced housing demands if 60 percent of residences are single-family homes, 14 percent are townhomes and duplexes, and 26 percent are multi-family units. 

That same report said that the average Utah city’s mix is 77 percent single-family homes, 14 percent townhouses and 9 percent apartments.

According to the most recent figures, Centerville is made up of 73 percent single-family houses, 19 percent duplexes and townhomes and 8 percent multi-family units.

The evaluation came as part of a review of the city’s moderate income housing plan. Moderate income housing is defined as being affordable for residents making 80 percent of the county’s median gross income. The average Davis County income is $71,500.

According to the report, someone with that income should be able to afford a home that costs $175,000-$200,000, depending on the type of loan. Approximately 49 percent of the city’s housing supply falls into that range.  Given current city policies, that number is expected to stay proportionate over the next five years. 

“We didn’t need to make any adjustments,” said Snyder. 

There are no specific state regulations saying how cities need to encourage housing in this price range. Instead, the state says that cities can’t discourage such housing through zoning or other means. 

“It was basically the state’s response to small cities who were moving to mandatory one-acre zoning,” said Snyder. “On that size a property, the house cost is going to be substantially higher.” 

When it comes to low-income housing, however, the situation gets complicated. Though multi-family housing is included in projects such as Centerville’s recent Legacy Crossing development, residents have historically been opposed to apartments in the city. A high-density housing element suggested by the city council was nixed after negative public response in 2010. 

“We don’t need high density or apartments on Main Street,” said Centerville resident Marjean Steed during that public comment period. “We don’t need people telling us what kind of homes we can live in. If they don’t like it, they can move.”

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