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.

Politics + Government

Vice President Kamala Harris arrives for an Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote Town Hall, Sat...

Emma Keddington

Kamala Harris intends to “earn and win” Democratic presidential nomination

Vice President Kamala Harris will seek the Democratic nomination for president, following Biden's presidential race resignation. 

9 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference July 11, 2024, in Washington. President Joe ...

Kennedy Camarena and Emma Keddington

Utah officials react to President Biden dropping out of presidential race

President Joe Biden's resignation sparked reactions throughout Utah not long after the news was announced.

10 hours ago

Biden set to come back to the campaign trail next week. Howell reacts. ( April 27, 2024. Marielle S...

Diana Jones

Is Biden ready to return to the campaign trail? Expert says its up to Biden

President Biden's campaign says he's returning to the campaign trail next week amidst rumors of stepping down.

2 days ago

gov spencer cox shown speaking, cox endorsed trump on Friday...

Sam Herrera

Gov. Cox says he plans to vote for Trump, offers former president support

Gov. Spencer Cox expressed his support and confirmed his endorsement of the former president during his monthly press conference.

2 days ago

president joe biden shown, former president obama has expressed concerns about biden's campaign...

Sam Herrera

LISTEN: Obama expresses concerns over Biden’s chances for reelection

Former President Barack Obama has privately expressed that President Joe Biden should reconsider his campaign's chances.

3 days ago

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, speaks during the Republican National...

Emma Keddington

JD Vance closes out day 3 at Republican National Convention, officially accepts VP nomination

JD Vance described his upbringing, called housing affordability and pledged that he will "give [Americans] everything I have."

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Utah pledges $50 million for homeless relief and affordable housing