Utah Faith Leaders Urge Action On 3 Affordable Rental Housing Issues

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Utah faith leaders urge action on affordable rental housing

Utah faith leaders delivered a letter urging the mayor and Salt Lake City Council to take action on the issue of affordable rental housing before a downtown homeless shelter closes in 2019, according to reports.

 "Market forces have driven rental prices beyond what many families in the rental market can afford," the letter states. "This leaves too many families on the edge of crisis."

About three dozen members of the Coalition of Religious Communities hand-delivered the letter to Mayor Jackie Biskupski, praising the mayor for her proposal to spend nearly $22 million next year on affordable housing projects in the city, according to the Deseret News.

In the letter the faith leaders suggested the following on affordable rental housing:

  • Construct 800 new units of permanent supportive housing in population centers across the state. “We strongly recommend that at least 200 of these units be recovery housing designed for specific needs of people leaving treatment.”
  • Create 200 new housing vouchers for homeless families with children that can be used statewide. “At this time the vacancy rate for apartments is so low that all forms of temporary housing assistance are less successful than in the past,” the letter said.
  • Produce sufficient new funding streams for low-income housing to reverse the steady loss of housing units that are affordable to families earning less than $25,000 per year “Market forces have driven rental prices beyond what many families in the rental market can afford. This leaves too many families on the edge of crisis. To reverse this trend our state needs to increase the production of low-income housing by at least 1,000 units per year.

"There is absolutely a sense of urgency to bring more housing online before the closure of the Rio Grande shelter," Biskupski said in a statement. "I would encourage all advocates to continue to remind elected leaders at all levels that housing — and funding for housing — is crucial as we move forward."

The mayor's proposal must be passed by the City Council, which has declared affordable housing a top priority in recent years. Last year, the council earmarked nearly $30 million in Redevelopment Agency funds for affordable housing and to build the three new homeless resource centers.

Salt Lake City is experiencing an affordable rental  housing crisis and city officials are scrambling to find solutions, according to good4utah.com.

City leaders say the city is in a deficit of around $8,000 affordable rental housing units. The low vacancy rates are driving up prices so high people often are forced move to other cities. This can lengthen commutes and causes another host of issues.

The housing plan under discussion will be a mix of apartments and town homes, and even possibly allowing "mother in law apartments" on private property.  Some residents believe the problem could be solved if city gives up some of its empty lots to multifamily developers to build affordable rental housing.

City officials also worry about a lack of affordable housing impacting economic growth in the future. Even people who live in the city may not be able to afford to live here once they sell their homes. The council will have another public hearing on this housing plan on November 21.

Utah faith leaders urge action on affordable rental housing

McGregor Apartments Ogden, Utah via creative commons.

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