Grand County Community and Economic Development Specialist Kaitlin Myers (right) and Grand County Council vice chair Curtis Wells (left) presented “Affordable Housing Challenges in Grand County” to the Utah Association of Commissioners and Council Members. [Photo courtesy of Curtis Wells]

Grand County Community and Economic Development Specialist Kaitlin Myers and Grand County Council vice chair Curtis Wells delivered a housing presentation to the Utah State Association of County Commissioners and Councils (USACCC) at its annual fall conference.

The presentation, titled “Affordable Housing Challenges in Grand County,” was shared at the USACCC’s fall conference on Sept. 19 in Heber City.

“Grand County is in a unique position,” Myers told the Moab Sun News in an email after the conference. “We face urban problems, but we are a rural community, which offers a really important, relatable case study for other communities in our region.”

The presentation delved into issues surrounding Grand County’s housing market, gave a workforce overview and described the rising affordability gap due to low wages and high housing costs. The data presented shows that for more than 10 years, Grand County’s annual wage has consistently been at least $10,000 less than the state annual wage, with housing costs consistently higher than the state average. While 56 percent of households in Grand County make less than $50,000 in annual income, the median sale price for a house in 2017 was $329,000.

Solutions to the community’s housing needs presented included the House Density Housing Overlay and updates to the land-use regulations.

Myers said she spoke with a commissioner shortly after they delivered the presentation who said that she and Wells talked about the affordable housing issues and solutions “in a way that really rang true to him.”

“We presented the information in a way many of the rural commissioners hadn’t heard before,” Myers said. “That is why it’s important that Grand County be represented: we can relate to both sides of this coin, whether urban or rural, progressive or conservative, and we can lead counties of all different backgrounds to a solution that will fit well in their respective communities.”

Myers’ work for Grand County includes helping residents with short-term land-use inquiries, which can range from business licenses and minor land-development applications to code enforcement. She also works to develop long-range planning, housing and economic development projects, and said there are several leaders in Grand County and Moab working to make sure the local area is a part of the state-wide conversations related to affordable housing, public lands and economic development, including Moab City Mayor Emily Niehaus and Grand County Community and Economic Development Director Zacharia Levine.

“I think it’s really important that the Moab area continues to lead these discussions, represent this community, and share lessons learned in order to move the state forward together,” Myers said.

“We received great feedback and have received requests to follow up with a presentation at the Utah Association of Counties (UAC) Conference in November,” Wells said.

The UAC conference is scheduled for Nov. 15-16 in St. George.

Myers, Wells present “Affordable Housing Challenges in Grand County”