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An analysis by The Associated Press shows a growing gap between Salt Lake City homeowners and renters in the decade since the American housing market peaked and then crashed.
While low interest rates have homeowners spending a smaller portion of their paychecks on housing, renters are paying a larger part of their income, a trend that's playing out around the country.
Combined with stagnant pay, that means people are having a harder time saving up to buy a house, according to an exclusive AP analysis of census data covering over 300 communities across the country.
Home ownership is a key source of wealth and financial safety net for most Americans, and if it remains out of reach it'll create long-term income inequality, said University of Utah housing market analyst James Wood. It's especially serious for people at the low end of the market.
"They're losers in this game. They're the least able to absorb rental rate increases, or if they get evicted it's hard to find another place," he said.
The AP analysis shows almost half of renters in the Salt Lake City area spent more than a third of their income on housing in 2014, meaning they are "cost burdened" by the government. That's up from 43 percent five years before. The number of homeowners in that position, meanwhile, dropped during the same period to less than a third.
The rental market is tight along the Wasatch Front, and while new projects will provide some relief it likely won't help those in the most dire straits, Wood said.
Median renter costs have grown 5 percent while owner costs have dropped more than 8 percent, according to the AP analysis.
While homeowners are benefiting from historically low interest rates, the crash still caused long-term damage to home equity, said Wood. Home prices in many areas are just now returning to 2007 highs nearly a decade later.
"That's a loss of a lot of potential equity growth," he said.
For other homeowners, the 2008 crash forced more people into relatively low stock of rentals after they lost their homes to foreclosure, said Tara Rollins, executive director of the Utah Housing Coalition.
The foreclosure put a black mark on their credit reports, meaning many people were denied for apartments they could afford and ended up in lower-end housing. The people who would have been living there were in turn sent further down the chain and some ended up in homeless shelters, she said.
The problem still persists nearly a decade later, though Rollins said she's seeing signs that local leaders are willing to tackle this issue.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski's administration is working on a long-term strategy to tackle the affordable housing shortage, said Melissa Jensen, deputy director of Housing and Neighborhood Development.
The shortfall totals about 7,500 units for households making less than half of the median income, and only two of the city's five largest industries pay employees enough to afford the city's median home price, Jensen said in an email.