Advocates urge Salt Lake City Mayor to fix affordable housing crisis now

SALT LAKE CITY – A lack of affordable housing and rising rent in Salt Lake City has a group of advocates calling on Mayor Jackie Biskupski to act now.

Salt Lake City has a shortage of 7,500 affordable housing units, and a coalition of religious and community groups believe they have the solution to fix it.

“I'm not quite homeless, but I'm not exactly middle-class either: I sit right on the cusp,” said Roger Parson, a Salt Lake City resident.

New apartments popping up downtown are out of Roger Parson’s reach. He wants the city to build more affordable housing.

“For families like me, we struggle non-stop just to make rent, let alone make ends meet," he said.

It’s a problem Tim Funk, director of the Crossroads Urban Center, is addressing.

“We're losing lots of people," he said.

Funk is part of a coalition of advocates who have written a letter to Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and the city council. They’re urging them to sign off on $18 million for low-income, affordable housing and $12 million for homeless resource centers.

“The council is actually building their war chest so to speak," Funk said. "The money and the policy that they're putting together will create a revolution probably for affordable housing in the city, it really will."

The group is also calling for an $80 million tax levy and incentives for developers to include more affordable housing units.

“The goal of affordable housing is to ensure that those people do not pay more than 30 percent of their income in housing, rent, and utilities,” said Reverend Elizabeth McVicker, with The United Methodist Church.

They’re also recommending regulations that would require every development in the city to include affordable housing.

“We need to include those people who are servers and people who are working as janitors and people who are part of our community too, and not segregate them to a few neighborhoods in our community” said Glen Bailey, the Executive Director for Crossroads Urban Center.

It’s a huge commitment that could make life a little bit easier for a lot of people. The Salt Lake County is expected to meet next Tuesday to go over the proposal.