Axios Salt Lake City

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It's Wednesday. Let's get to it.

  • Today's weather: ⛅ Mostly cloudy, with a slight chance of snow and rain and a high of 45.

Situational awareness: Monica Garcia will not be returning to "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" in the show's upcoming fifth season, People reported yesterday.

Today's newsletter is 967 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: 💪 Women are winning in real estate

Share of housing units owned and occupied by single women, 2021
Data: LendingTree; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Single women in Utah own more homes than single men — and overall homeownership is now majority female.

Yes, but: Utah's homeownership rate among single women still ranks dead last in the nation.

Why it matters: Roughly 60 years ago, women couldn't even get a credit card or a mortgage without a male cosigner. Now, the share of single women homeowners eclipses that of single men.

Driving the news: Solo women mortgage applicants made up 18% of the market in 2023 — a share that's slowly grown since mortgage platform Maxwell started tracking applicants' gender and marital status in 2021.

  • 1 in 3 women with partners bought alone because they were in a stronger financial position, Maxwell's annual Single Women Home Buyer Report found.

State of play: Census data shows 9% of homes in Utah are owned by single women, compared to 7% by single men.

By the numbers: In 1990, fewer than a third of total households (married and single) were headed by females. In 2021, the majority (51%) of households reported being female-headed.

  • That increase was mostly driven by married households, Urban Institute researcher Jung Hyun Choi says, in which 43% claimed to be female-headed in 2021. That's compared to 8% in 1990.

Of note: In most age groups, women outnumber men. "This is more a reflection of strength in numbers than economic vitality," Pew researcher Richard Fry tells Axios.

The other side: Opportunity isn't equal. Single Latina and Black women have the lowest homeownership rates of any group in the U.S.

  • "Thirty-nine percent of Latinas who are single and live alone owned a home in 2021, compared to close to 62% of non-Hispanic white women in similar circumstances," Axios' Astrid Galván reports. "The rate for that year was 37% for single, non-Hispanic Black women who live alone."

What they're saying

2. Troubled teen industry back under the microscope

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A recent Netflix documentary is redirecting the spotlight onto Utah's notorious troubled-teen treatment industry, right as new allegations of abuse surface.

Driving the news: Released a few weeks ago, "Hell Camp: Teen Nightmare" chronicles the controversial, Utah-based Challenger Foundation — a wilderness treatment program accused of abusing and neglecting teens in its care in the 1980s.

  • The organization filed for bankruptcy after a teen died during a hike on the Kaiparowits Plateau in 1990, leading to a slew of lawsuits.
  • The Challenger Foundation's founder, Steve Cartisano, went on to found other teen outdoor therapy groups that also faced accusations of abuse.

The big picture: Utah's relatively lax rules for troubled teen programs put it at the center of an industry that's raked in millions of dollars. More teens are sent to programs here than any other state.

The latest: In a lawsuit filed last week, a Washington, D.C. teen alleged he was abused at a Davis County facility that he says detained him at the bidding of his father, whom he also accused of abuse.

  • Also last week, the podcast "Mormon Stories" broadcast an episode in which a woman alleges similar treatment about 20 years ago in a North Salt Lake center.

Keep reading

3. Fry Sauce: News to whet your appetite

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚽 Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that would require children be potty trained as a condition of kindergarten enrollment in public schools. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

⚖️ Attorneys for death-row inmate Ralph Menzies say he is suffering from dementia and should not be executed. (KUTV)

  • Menzies was was convicted of the 1986 murder of 26-year-old Maurine Hunsaker in Big Cottonwood Canyon. He selected firing squad as the method of execution.

🎶 USANA Amphitheater in West Valley City will be renamed Utah First Credit Union Amphitheater under a new sponsorship deal. (FOX 13)

4. "Napolean Dynamite" creators get Oscar nod

Jerusha Hess and Jared Hess during the screening and Q&A for "Ninety-Five Senses" at UTA on Nov. 9, 2023, in Beverly Hills, California. Photo: Unique Nicole/Getty Images

The Utah filmmakers who stunned audiences with the release of the cult classic "Napoleon Dynamite" at the Sundance Film Festival 20 years ago are now Academy Award nominees.

Driving the news: The Academy Awards yesterday announced the 2024 nominees for Hollywood's most-coveted prize.

Details: "Ninety-Five Senses," co-directed by married couple Jerusha and Jared Hess, was named a finalist in the "Animated Short Film" category, along with four other flicks.

  • The 14-minute short is an "ode to the body's five senses delivered by a man with little time left to enjoy them," per IMBD.

What we're watching: The 96th Academy Awards is slated for March 10 in Los Angeles.

More details here

5. Please help me with my computer-eating cat

This was, admittedly, not the smartest thing we've tried. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

Erin, here! A couple years ago I told you about my new kitty, Enola.

  • She's still a sweetheart, and the whole family adores her.
  • But, but, but: She eats my computers.

No, seriously. She's destroyed three laptops in under a year.

  • Disabling cracks spidered around bite marks she left in the corner of the screen, which eventually went dark.

The latest: I got my new computer two Mondays ago and vigilantly kept her away during the moments of greatest peril — my daily morning meetings with Kim and our editor Gigi.

  • Enola becomes agitated whenever I talk on Zooms, Slack huddles or regular phone calls. She attacks my phone, too.
  • Unfortunately, the other cat — Dijon — tried to push a glass off the counter last Friday. When I returned from rescuing it, I found Enola leaving fresh bite marks on the brand-new screen. It went blank about two hours later.

Of note: I'm told our IT department has no hiring or firing authority over my position, which is the only reason I'm telling you this. But I can't bring myself to ask for a new computer until I can keep it safe from this super predator.

A grey striped cat licks a person's hand.
Enola is generous with kisses. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

Tell us: How do I discourage a cat from biting this one random (though necessary) thing? She doesn't chew up anything else.

  • Send us your advice, and you could be featured in a future edition!

Kim is thinking about her friends at the Los Angeles Times.

🔬Erin is proud of her kid for finishing a really hard science fair project.

This newsletter was edited by Gigi Sukin and copyedited by Natasha Danielle Smith and Yasmeen Altaji.