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Affordable Housing Advocates: Utah Policymakers Can Do More

Crossroads Urban Center says more than half of all Salt Lake City residents don't make enough to afford renting an average-priced, two-bedroom house or apartment. (Nate Bolt/Flickr)
Crossroads Urban Center says more than half of all Salt Lake City residents don't make enough to afford renting an average-priced, two-bedroom house or apartment. (Nate Bolt/Flickr)
August 22, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – The cost of buying or renting a home in Utah has been on the rise for years. Now, affordable-housing advocates say state government needs to take action before Utah reaches a crisis point.

The Alliance for a Better Utah and Crossroads Urban Center have launched a joint campaign. #WhereDoTheyGo calls attention to issues of affordable housing in Utah.

This year's annual Point in Time homeless count showed an increase in the number of unsheltered people in the state, and Jessica Roadman, community outreach coordinator with Crossroads Urban Center, said that over the last two decades, it's gotten harder for Utahns to pay rent.

"Housing is getting much more expensive; incomes are not correlating to that," she said. "People are facing difficult choices with how they're allocating their income."

The groups have released a series of short videos to raise awareness about homelessness and the need for affordable housing. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, Crossroads Urban Center is to host a "Poverty Summit" at First United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, for the public to discuss these issues with a panel of Utah policymakers.

The groups also are petitioning Gov. Gary Herbert to make affordable housing a priority this year.

The Salt Lake City Road Home shelter is set to close in 2019, to be replaced with three smaller shelters. Roadman said the transition could result in a shortage of hundreds of shelter beds unless Utah politicians take action soon.

"We're asking the governor to include very specific, targeted housing options in his 2019 budget," she said, "really making sure that somehow, those beds that are going to be missing are made up for in other ways."

As Utah's population has grown, Roadman said, the state has fallen behind in providing housing across all income levels, and the wait for those who qualify for government-subsidized, low-income housing can take years.

The #WhereDoTheyGo petition is online at act.betterutah.org, and Poverty Summit event information is at facebook.com.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - UT