Sep 14, 2022 - News

SLC mayor wants to spend $6 million on housing for people experiencing homelessness

Illustration of a pattern of houses made of money
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall proposed a $6 million grant program yesterday that will fund 400 housing units for low-income people and individuals experiencing homelessness.

State of play: If approved by the city council, the permanent housing units would be completed by mid-April 2023, around the time when winter overflow shelters close.

  • Under the proposal, developers would be able to apply to build projects that include at least 90 units of permanent supportive housing and transitional housing, Mendenhall said.

The big picture: Mendenhall's proposal comes at a time when state and local governments are working together to make historic investments to increase the state's affordable housing inventory.

  • Earlier this year, Salt Lake County also committed to spending $20 million to increase the county's affordable housing options, FOX 13 reported.

Go deeper: Utah to invest $55 million in deeply affordable housing

Context: Local and state leaders have grappled with finding solutions to homelessness in Utah's capital city, particularly since the Road Home's downtown shelter closed in late 2019.

  • The number of Utahns who were experiencing homelessness for the first time increased by 14% between 2020 and 2021.
  • During that time, about 17,500 people interacted with the state's homeless system, according to Utah's housing coordinator Wayne Niederhauser.
  • Salt Lake City has also opened temporary overflow shelters during the winter.

Yes, but: As soon as winter overflow shelters close, Mendenhall said the question remains: Where are people supposed to go?

What they're saying: "We know that many of the residents in encampments would move indoors if they had a private space of their own available," Mendenhall said during a news conference Tuesday.

What's next: Salt Lake City Council will hold a public comment session on the grant funding proposal on Sept. 20 at 7pm.

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