SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Council has voted to spend $20 million to expand affordable housing options in Utah's most populous county.
In a 7-2 vote, the council shifted some federal COVID-19 stimulus money to affordable housing needs, including options to help people with rent.
"We’ve got a crisis on our hands. So that’s what this money is supposed to help," said Council Chair Laurie Stringham.
Mayor Jenny Wilson agreed and said the massive investment will help.
"It’s game changing. We haven’t had resources like this any time that I can remember and we are in a housing crisis," she said.
The money will hopefully help people on the verge of homelessness, said Sandi Pershing, the executive director of Friends of the Children Utah in Kearns. She said many of the families her group works with are feeling the pressure of rising rents.
"Part of it is rents going up and part of it is availability, just housing in the community that is affordable," she said.
The money will be spent in different ways, Chair Stringham said. There will be money to keep people in housing, expand housing options and try to keep it affordable.
"There’s some voucher programs, different money programs so people can stay in their homes, keep them in their homes longer or in their rental spaces longer," she said.
Chair Stringham said the county is seeing increasing numbers of senior citizens who are becoming homeless.
"These are people who’ve never been homeless in their life, because of life experiences they don’t own a home, they’re renting right now and living on fixed incomes and some have been priced out of their home as soon as their lease is up, they’re out," she said.
Mayor Wilson said the money will also be used to get at least 1,000 new rental units.
"Is $20 million enough? Heavens no!" the mayor said. "It’s a great start and I’m hoping everyone will see the value of this level of investment so we can really cut into this crisis."