POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah pledges $50 million for homeless relief and affordable housing

Mar 3, 2021, 8:00 PM
affordable housing Utah...
House Speaker Brad Wilson, at podium, announcing $50 million earmarked to tackle the issues of homelessness and affordable housing. Credit: Paul Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s been a $50 million promise from the state legislature to tackle the growing issues of homelessness and affordable housing in Utah. And several prominent philanthropists in the state said they’re ready to match what Utah is paying. 

On Wednesday, Senate, House, and community leaders in Utah gathered outside the State Capitol to discuss how the state intends to allocate funds to address the homelessness issue.

Lawmakers earmarked the $50 million after new revenue projections indicated an extra $1.5 billion in a combination of one-time and ongoing funds in the state’s coffers.

RELATED: Affordable housing in Utah hard to come by for first-time buyers

Some lawmakers say these issues were already getting serious in the state before the pandemic, and they’ve only gotten worse, since.

Rising costs contributing to skyrocketing housing prices

Rising home prices, when moderate, can be a good thing.  But, House Speaker Brad Wilson said the rise in home prices in Utah has outpaced income, squeezing many people out of affordable housing.

“Over the past ten years, average home prices in the state of Utah have risen almost twice as fast as the median income of Utah residents,” Wilson said.

Rising construction costs, like those seen in the lumber market, aren’t helping.

“We’ve seen lumber products go up more than $24 thousand in the past 12 months on our average house,” said Ivory Homes CEO Clark Ivory. “This is killing us and making it very difficult to deliver on any sort of affordable product.”

Ivory said the state legislature has set aside $25 million to preserve existing affordable housing units, and another $10 million will go to the Olene Walker Housing Trust Fund.

“They’ll take this $10 million and turn it into a thousand affordable housing units,” Ivory said.

Funds to address homelessness in Utah

Senate President Stuart Adams said Utah is the best state for upward mobility. But he believes the state has to do a better job of caring for the homeless.

“We’ve noticed that in the capital city, homelessness is increasing.  That’s a real concern for all of us,” Adams said.

RELATED:  Woman dead at homeless yard encampment; authorities to help find shelter

The state is paying $15 million to create a new system that governs the needs of the homeless population.  It creates a new framework for the state to oversee these issues that lawmakers believe will be less expensive and more efficient over the long term.

Larry H. Miller Group of Companies owner Gail Miller says she believes homelessness is one of the most pressing issues in the state. She said it can be caused by a number of different factors like unemployment, lack of education, mental illness, addiction, and just bad luck. 

She said this funding will create a state homeless services coordinator who reports directly to Gov. Spencer Cox.  The funding also establishes the Utah Homeless Council that serves as the state’s decision-making body on the issue of homelessness.

“It creates a first-ever coordinated statewide budget for homelessness and it encourages greater philanthropic engagement,” Miller said.

With the state’s $50 million, along with donations from the public, lawmakers believe their investment could translate into $730 million worth of economic impact.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Politics + Government

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., departs after attending a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill ...
Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona, CNN

George Santos tells House Republicans he wants off of his committees until issues are resolved

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia told CNN that it was Santos' decision that he made on his own to "abstain" from the committees.
10 hours ago
Nicole Schmidt, mother of Gabby Petito, wipes away a tear during a press conference for SB117, a bi...
SAM METZ, The Associated Press

Petito family lobbies for ‘lethality assessment’ law in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When officers pulled over a van for speeding outside of Arches National Park in August 2021, they found a visibly distraught young couple in an emotional fight. Gabby Petito, 22, and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, 23, were driving across the United States, and upon observing the couple, police officers in […]
10 hours ago
education legislation...
Mark Jones

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in classrooms

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in Utah classrooms.
1 day ago
FILE - A doctor loads a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at ...
Aimee Cobabe

Bill banning vaccine passports heading to Utah Senate

A bill to ban vaccine passports is heading out of the Utah House and into the Utah Senate. The bill is similar to a failed bill from 2022.
1 day ago
Hundreds gather in support of transgender youth in a rally at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023...
Lindsay Aerts

LGBTQ advocacy groups to file lawsuit over Utah’s transgender-related surgery law

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU of Utah will file a lawsuit against the new Utah law banning transgender minors from getting surgeries and limiting hormone treatments. “We’re putting together a challenge as quickly as we can,” said Shannon Minter, the NCLR’s legal director, to KSL NewsRadio’s Lindsay […]
1 day ago
Protesters block traffic as they rally against the fatal police assault of Tyre Nichols, in Venice,...
Nouran Salahieh, Holly Yan and Nick Valencia, CNN

A 6th Memphis officer is taken off the force after the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols

Grisly video showing Memphis police beating a 29-year-old Black man has spawned nationwide protests.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Utah pledges $50 million for homeless relief and affordable housing