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$35 million affordable housing bill moves forward in the Utah legislature

Feb 5, 2020, 5:36 AM
Utah State Capitol.  1/27/20 (Colby Walker | KSL NewsRadio)...
Utah State Capitol. 1/27/20 (Colby Walker | KSL NewsRadio)
(Colby Walker | KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah Senate committee passed out a bill on Tuesday that would spend $35 million to try to solve the state’s affordable housing crisis.

But lawmakers also raised serious concerns about SB 39, which would still need a full vote of the legislature before it would become law.

The bill would set aside $15 million from the general fund to help build thousands of affordable housing units. Another $15 million would go towards rental assistance, while $5 million would go towards preserving older buildings, which tend to have more affordable units.

Senator Jake Anderegg (R-Lehi), who sponsors the bill, feels this is the cheaper option for Utah, as he explained to the committee.

“The cost of, let’s say, $200 [or] $250 for rental income per month versus the cost of having a bed down at the homeless shelter, which is about $150 a night. And if they fall into our laps, we’re spending that money without a choice on our side,” Anderegg said.

He also pointed out that most people are kicked out of their apartments for financial reasons and not because they had committed any crime.

But Senator Dan McCay (R-Riverton), who cast the only “no” vote, raised concerns that the bill would not do anything to combat the zoning laws in some cities that make it difficult to build affordable housing.

There were also questions about whether the state had enough money in the general fund to pay for the program.

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$35 million affordable housing bill moves forward in the Utah legislature