Salt Lake allocates $8M to combat housing crisis, increase affordable units
Ana Valdemoros, chairman of the board of directors of Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, speaks during a press conference Tuesday to announce a statement of the availability of funds for affordable housing development in the city. (Shafkat Anowar, Desert News)
SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency released $ 8 million on Tuesday to build and maintain affordable housing projects. The city continues to experience increasing economic inequality, while house prices are rising faster than residents’ incomes.
“This is the commitment we show with the resources we have to provide solutions to this nationwide housing crisis. It may not be the whole solution, but it is the best that anyone has done, ”the RDA board of directors and a city councilor announced at a press conference on Tuesday. “I really appreciate the fellow council members, the mayor and the staff for focusing on the resources we have and distributing them so that we can at least make a dent for the people of Salt Lake City.”
The $ 8 million will be provided through the RDA’s home loan program. A portion of this funding, US $ 2.7 million, will go to projects in high-opportunity areas. These areas are places in Salt Lake City that are believed to provide conditions that expand individuals’ opportunities for social mobility.
According to RDA Director Danny Walz, these promising areas are identified using indicators such as the home ownership rate, poverty, household cost burden, level of education, unemployment rate and labor force participation. The agency consists of seven Salt Lake City councilors, with Mayor Erin Mendenhall as executive director.
Applicants must develop and plan a project that meets the city’s affordable housing goals in order to qualify for funding. Some of the city’s destinations are:
- Housing units for underserved populations
- Living for families
- Units for affordable home ownership
- Equal access to a variety of transportation options
- Equitable geographical distribution of affordable housing
- Long term affordability.
“It’s not just money that helps us better facilitate geographic equity in our city in terms of affordability, and that’s why it’s so important whatever the void for current homeowners,” said Mendenhall.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaks during a press conference Tuesday to announce a notice of the availability of funds for affordable housing development in the city. (Photo: Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)
The city goals show a variety of needs that residents face during the affordable housing crisis.
The federal government defines affordable housing as any housing unit for which the gross monthly costs, including ancillary costs, do not exceed 30% of the gross monthly income of a household. However, government data found that more than 183,000 low-income households are paying more than half of their incomes for rent and are nearing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic as economic conditions deteriorate.
The same data showed that from 2009 to 2016 income increased 0.31% per year, while rent increased 1.03% per year in 2017. Additionally, recent population growth in cities like Salt Lake City has led to a concentrated increase asked. For example, the average rent for an apartment in Salt Lake County was $ 647 in 2000, but the average monthly payment rose to $ 1,153 by 2018, according to analysis by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
Priceless housing leaves residents with less money to pay for groceries, utilities, transportation to work, health, and childcare, among other things. Mendenhall said the city is taking these things into account when allocating funds, pointing out that 90% of the homes built in Salt Lake City since 2019 are within walking distance of public transportation, which helps reduce transportation costs, which make up an average of 20% of a resident’s total income.
Part of that housing growth includes 333 affordable units, partially funded by the RDA and added last year. Valdemoros said an additional 181 units are slated to go online by the end of this calendar year, more than three-quarters of which will be rented at affordable prices for those earning 60% or less of the median income in the area.
These units may look like “micro units” seen in newer developments such as the Mya at 447 South Blair Street. Property manager Alicia Anderson said the building offers different units at different prices depending on applicants’ incomes. The building has market-priced units that allow for a mix of different demographics and income levels, allowing people to feel like they are in any other building.
But Valdemoros said the focus should not be just on micro-units, but on a variety of packages that meet a complicated need. The councilor pointed out that residents are struggling to accommodate growing families in smaller homes.
“We hear from churches, we hear from schools, we hear from the neighbors who say, ‘Hey, you know, I’m having a second child – I don’t think I can live in the city anymore.’ It’s hard for me as a councilor to hear because I always thought I wanted everyone to live, work and play in Salt Lake City, “said Valdemoros.
Developers can attend a virtual meeting of the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency on Friday, September 24th at 11 a.m. to review the application, requirements, and selection process. For more information or to attend the meeting, visit slc.rda.com.
For a list of Utah residential resources, visit https://www.hud.gov/states/utah/renting. In Salt Lake County, affordable housing resources are available at https://housingconnect.org.