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Clergy, affordable housing advocates ask for more from the Utah legislature

Posted at 4:29 PM, Sep 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-13 18:33:49-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of faith groups and affordable housing advocates pressed a Capitol Hill commission to recommend more money be spent on housing and homeless issues across Utah.

They left a little surprised when members of an affordable housing commission floated potential projects worth millions more than even they asked for. Altogether, as much as $200 million in potential projects to help with affordable housing could ultimately be recommended to the Utah State Legislature, though it still has more hurdles to clear.

So far, the state has authorized $55 million for affordable housing projects across Utah. It's well below funding levels sought by Governor Spencer Cox and housing and anti-poverty advocates in the past. They have said there's as much as $120 million in needed projects to keep people from falling into homelessness.

"We want to encourage the commission to adopt policies that address that recognize this is the crisis it is and fund it to a level we can really transform homelessness and affordable housing problems in Utah," said Rev. Dr. Curtis Price of the First Baptist Church in Salt Lake City.

On Tuesday, members of the Coalition of Religious Communities pleaded with the Commission on Housing Affordability to advance recommendations to increase spending levels. The commission did not make a recommendation, but did discuss needs beyond even what the advocates were wanting.

"I'm optimistic," said Bill Tibbits, the director of the Coalition of Religious Communities.