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Orem • For every affordable apartment for senior citizens in Utah County, there are almost 10 low-income elderly residents in need of rent-adjusted housing. City leaders in Orem are tailoring ordinances to try to help ease the situation.

The City Council four years ago adopted an Affordable Senior Housing (ASH) zone, creating a stretch along State Street where developers can quadruple up on residential lots to house the financially struggling elderly.

Now, with 12 units built, four approved for construction and another four pending application, the City Planning Division wants to tighten regulations for developers in the future to cut costs and stay in line with the original intent of the project because currently ASH zone units are going for prices comparable to high-end Orem apartments.

The council this week voted unanimously to limit new units in the zone to no more than two bedrooms and up to 900 square feet.

"The whole intent of this ordinance was to provide affordable housing, and the larger these units are, the less likely it is that they are going to be affordable," said city Planning Division manager Jason Bench.

Mayor Richard Brunst agreed.

"This is all about the seniors and not about the developers," he said.

Under the Housing and Urban Development fair market standards, maximum rent that developers can charge for a one-bedroom unit is $639, two-bedroom is $763, and for a three-bedroom, $1,103. Next year, those limits will go up to $697, $818 and $1,191, respectively.

Councilman Tom Macdonald noted that the price difference between one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments wasn't significant, nor was the difference between the three and four-bedroom apartments.

"That's where the big delta is: between two and three," Macdonald said.

According to Bench, an audit of eight ASH units showed the average monthly rent to be $1,011. By comparison, the Italian Villages complex at 980 W. 950 North that sports new high-end apartments, a pool, a clubhouse and a theater room charges between $1,145 and $1,185 per month for a three-bedroom unit.

Lynell Smith, executive director of the Housing Authority of Utah County, confirms that most of the demand for senior housing is for one- or two-bedroom apartments — and that demand is huge.

In addition to a 2015 study commissioned by the Housing Authority that found 3,000 limited-income senior renters in Utah County and only 330 affordable senior apartments, Smith said that the Housing Authority's 59 apartments have a 303-person waiting list. Ninety-nine percent of those on the waiting list need a one- or two-bedroom unit.

The council's vote also added clarifying language to the ordinance.

The Code now explicitly states that developers must factor in utility charges (excluding telephone) to the maximum rent.

The code also prohibits building basements, accepts vinyl as an acceptable building material, and lowers the required amount of brick and stone building material from 40 to 30 percent.