This 38.95-acre property at 2022 Spanish Valley Drive is the site of the Arroyo Crossing development. [Moab Sun News file photo]

Is there a ray of hope for Moab’s housing woes?

“Affordable housing” is defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as housing that consumes 30% or less of a household’s income. The Moab Area Housing Plan, written by the Interlocal Housing Task Force and updated in 2016, states that more than half of all households earning 80% or less of Area Median Income (AMI) in Grand County are cost-burdened, which means they spend more than 30% of household income on total housing costs including mortgage or rent, taxes, insurance, utilities, and other fees.  

According to the HUD website, a four-person family in Grand County making 80% of AMI has an annual household income of $56,900. Meanwhile, the median sale price of a home in Moab in the first three months of 2019 was $366,524, according to the Grand County Market Update for March 2019 published by the Utah Association of Realtors on their website.

Community members and officials have repeatedly referred to Moab’s housing stock as being in “crisis.” However, three housing projects geared toward Moab’s moderate- and low-wage earners are on the horizon, which in combination are expected to add about 400 affordable housing units to Moab’s housing stock.

The City of Moab recently purchased a trailer park on Walnut Lane and plans to build affordable apartments for low-income residents; the Housing Authority is moving forward on a subdivision of single-family dwellings and townhomes; and the Moab Area Land Trust is working on the largest deed-restricted development ever built in Moab.  

While these projects won’t solve Moab’s housing problems — the Moab Area Housing Plan predicts that the number of new housing units needed across all price levels will increase by 1,024 (from 2016 levels) by 2030 — affordable housing proponent and Moab Area Community Land Trust chair Audrey Graham says they will make a substantive difference.


Moab Area Community Land Trust (MACLT)’s subdivision project is dubbed Arroyo Crossing.

The 41-acre housing development will have some commercial space and is located on Spanish Valley Drive. While the exact number and types of units may shift as the project moves into its final design stage, there will be close to 200 lots in the development — including around 88 single-family lots, 79 townhome lots, three apartment lots (made to accommodate about 104 apartment units in total), and approximately 30 smaller, independent cottages — for around 300 housing units total.  

There are four neighborhood commercial spaces planned, one of which the land trust hopes will be a day-care center.

The land trust has put out a survey to solicit feedback from the community on the design of the Arroyo Crossing development.  The survey takes a few minutes to complete and it includes questions about household size and income range, preferences on building styles and what people would want in a neighborhood commercial space. The survey can be taken online through Monday, May 20, at

“My passion is to work within the community, for the community,” Graham said. “Nobody’s going to get 100% of what they would like to see, but I’m hoping we can really make a dent in the affordable housing crisis.”

Graham said Arroyo Crossing units will be deed restricted, but the terms are not yet finalized.

One-hundred percent of the project’s units will be for households at or under 120% of AMI, while 75% of units will be for 100% of AMI or less, and 50% of units must be for households at 80% of AMI or less. In addition, the AMI is “adjusted,” which somewhat raises the amount a household can earn and still qualify.  

Graham said this helps workers who make too much to qualify for other affordable housing options, but who may still not be able to afford market rate housing options. She gave a hypothetical example of a teacher and someone who works for the roads department as a couple who would be looking for affordable housing in Moab.

“We really don’t want to cut them out of this,” she said. “We need those workers.”

Graham added that including units available to relatively higher wage earners does not take away from the availability of units for low- and very low-earners.

MACLT said in a March press release that its goal is to serve Moab’s essential workforce, including teachers, emergency service providers, government employees and service-sector workers.

The viability of Arroyo Crossing has been made possible by a $4.2 million allocation of federal New Markets Tax Credits from the Community Development Finance Alliance (CDFA). Graham disclosed that the president of the CDFA, Amy Rowland, is her sister.

“We pay some of that back in 7 years, but we end up with over a million dollars that we get without having to pay back,” Graham said.  

However, keeping that funding means that the preliminary and final plat have to be completed by Sept. 30. They may be able to apply for a short extension. 

“We’re on a very tight timeline to get the funding,” Graham said.

She said they are incurring some costs with site prep work and will pay people once the tax credit money comes through, though ideally the community will raise the money for some pre-development costs.  

“We really need to have another $200,000,” she said. “We really need the community to come up with this if possible. … We do have an anonymous donor who has given us a low-interest line of credit, but we have to pay that back. The more we can raise from donations, the less it will cost in the long run.”

MACLT has also asked the county council to waive around $50,000 of impact and development fees associated with the project. The council is expected to consider this at their next meeting on May 21 at 4 p.m. in the county council chamber at 125 E. Center St.  


Ben Riley, director of the Housing Authority of Southern Utah, told the Moab Sun News on May 9 that the Wingate Village subdivision was approved on Tuesday, May 7, by the Grand County Council.

Riley said Wingate Village will consist of 33 total units.

Plans include 11 single family units to be built under the housing authority’s Mutual Self Help (MSH) program; there will also be 22 affordable townhome rentals that were awarded tax credits last winter. 

“The townhomes will be three- and four-bedrooms with rents ranging from $350 to $950 per month,” Riley said. “We are currently negotiating with investors to finalize the financing for that part of the project.”

Riley added that Grand County was also awarded a Community Development Block Grant to fund some of the site improvements. 

“We are hoping to go out to bid in the next month or so to start the improvements while we finish up the financing part of the townhome rental portion,” he said. “The plan is to have MSH lots available later this summer on the 11 homes and the 22 townhomes will start shortly thereafter.”

He added that the housing authority has not yet asked county government for any fee waivers for Wingate Village, but may do so for the portion of townhomes intended for residents making under 50% AMI.


Moab City Senior Projects Manager Tracey Dutson told the Moab Sun News on Monday, May 13, that the city’s plans for the trailer park at 250 Walnut Lane is to create apartments with “a proposed 80-unit affordable, mixed-income rental development.”

He said the 80 units will be one- to three-story multi-family apartments. They will include 300-square-foot studio apartments, 400-square-foot one-bedroom units, 640-square-foot two-bedroom units and 900-square-foot three-bedroom units.

Dutson said the currently proposed unit mix is subject to change, but is currently proposed as 10 studio units, 34 one-bedroom units, 28 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. He said that five or six of these units will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and each unit will have a refrigerator, cooking range, dishwasher, an air conditioner/heating unit, and a clothes washer and dryer.  

He said an architecture firm will be selected this year, possibly in July, and he anticipates that the planning and design will require up to 10 months to complete. Construction is expected to commence in mid-2020 and to be completed around a year later.

Three projects put affordable units on horizon

“I’m hoping we can really make a dent in the affordable housing crisis.”