The Case for Multi-Generational Housing in Utah

May 3rd, 2019

There are societal trends that will drive demand for multi-generational housing. Many community residents are campaigning to maintain a low-density single-family development for most parts of their town, but they might be changing their opinion for their own property.

Consider these trends:

  • Many families are looking for solutions for the millennial “boomerang generation” as well as retiring family members that prefer to ‘age in place’.
  • Housing costs in Utah have risen consistently over time, and almost all analysts believe that this will continue.
  • People are retiring for longer periods of time, and many are not as financially prepared for it. Leveraging their home is often an attractive option.
  • There is a growing acceptance of tiny homes.
  • There is a strong location preference for areas in Utah because of extended family, proximity to religious centers, and recreational amenities.
  • Families that have purchased a larger residential lot often complain about the maintenance and upkeep of their landscaping space over time. They have room to develop inside their property.
  • The sharing economy (short-term rentals, car sharing) will only continue to grow.
  • Cities struggle to incentivize maintenance and redevelopment of homes along busier traffic corridors, but allowing an increase of density increases the potential value of the property.

There are a number of issues that cities need to address, including whether property owners should be required to live on the property, whether a “mother-in-law apartment” should be physically subordinate to the primary structure, parking, pets, and separate addresses for emergency responders.

This is important because individually, none of these trends will be enough to cause a shift in neighborhood developments, but together they make the case that cities need to start to embrace the concept of accessory dwelling units and multi-generational housing.