Ana Valdemoros, chair of the board of directors of the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, speaks at a press conference Tuesday announcing a notice of funding availability for affordable housing development in the city. (Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City redevelopment agency on Tuesday released $ 8 million for the construction and preservation of affordable housing projects. The city continues to experience growing economic inequality as housing rates rise faster than the incomes of residents.
“This is the commitment we are showing with the resources we have to provide solutions to this statewide housing crisis that we are experiencing, it may not be the complete solution, but it is the most that anyone has done, “Ana Valdemoros, president of the board of directors of the GDR and a city councilor, said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I really appreciate the other members of council, the mayor and the staff, for focusing on the resources we have and dispersing them so that we can at least make a dent for the residents of Salt Lake City.”
The $ 8 million will be allocated under the GDR Housing Development Loan Program. A portion of this funding, $ 2.7 million, is spent on projects located in what are considered “high potential areas”. These areas are places in Salt Lake City that are believed to provide conditions that will expand an individual’s possibilities for social mobility.
These high opportunity areas are identified using indicators such as homeownership rate, poverty, household financial burden, education level, unemployment rate and labor market participation. work, according to the director of the GDR, Danny Walz. The agency is made up of the seven members of the Salt Lake City council, with Mayor Erin Mendenhall as executive director.
Applicants must develop and plan a project that meets the city’s affordable housing goals to be eligible for funding. Some of the city’s goals include:
- Residential units targeted at underserved populations
- Accommodation for families
- Housing for affordable home ownership
- Equitable access to a variety of transportation options
- Equitable geographic distribution of affordable housing
- Long-term affordability.
“It’s not just the money that’s going to help us make geographic equity more possible in our city, when it comes to affordability, and that’s why that’s so important. whatever the gap for the current owners, ”Mendenhall said.
The City’s goals demonstrate a variety of needs that residents face during the affordable housing crisis.
The federal government defines affordable housing as any housing unit whose gross monthly costs, including utilities, do not represent more than 30% of a household’s gross monthly income. Corn state data found that more than 183,000 low-income households pay more than half of their income for rent and move closer to homelessness with deteriorating economic conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This same data showed that from 2009 to 2016, incomes grew by 0.31% per year, while rents increased at a rate of 1.03% per year in 2017. In addition, the recent population growth of cities like Salt Lake City resulted in a concentrated increase. required. 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 in 2018, according to an analysis by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute of the University of Utah.
Unaffordable housing leaves residents with less money to pay for food, utilities, transportation to work, health and child care, among other expenses. Mendenhall said the city takes these elements into account when allocating funds, noting that 90% of housing units built in Salt Lake City since 2019 are within walking distance of public transportation, helping to keep costs down. transport which represent on average 20% of the expenses of a resident. total income.
Part of this housing growth includes 333 affordable units, funded in part by the RDA, which were added in the past year. According to Valdemoros, 181 more units are expected to come online by the end of this calendar year, with more than three-quarters of these rented at affordable rates for those earning 60% or less of the region’s median income.
These units may look like “micro-units” seen in newer developments like the Mya, located at 447 South Blair Street. Property manager Alicia Anderson said the building offers different units with varying rates depending on applicants’ incomes. The building has market-priced units, which allows “a mix of different demographics and different incomes and makes people feel like they live in any other building.”
But Valdemoros said the focus should not be on micro-units, but on a variety of housing that meets a complex need. The council member pointed out that residents find it difficult to accommodate a growing family in smaller homes.
“We hear churches, we hear schools, we hear neighbors 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 to hear as a board member because I always thought I wanted everyone to live, work and play in Salt Lake City, ”said Valdemoros.
Developers can attend a virtual meeting hosted by the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency on Friday, September 24 at 11 a.m. to receive an overview of the application, requirements, and selection process. For more information or to attend the meeting visit, slc.rda.com.