Long-time homeless advocate believes apartment building planned is positive

Apr 15, 2021, 7:42 PM
Homeless Apartment Building...
Photo Credit: dbURBAN

SALT LAKE CITY — Long-time homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson believes the apartment building planned will be a positive thing. The apartment building will be built at the site of the old Road Home homeless shelter in downtown Salt Lake City and will ultimately help keep people off the streets.

Atkinson told KSL Newsradio that the mixed-use apartment building planned for the site at 200 South Rio Grande Avenue might not be planned for people experiencing homelessness, but it may help those with lower incomes.

“You’re in there, right downtown. There are busses there, there’s transport there. It seems to me that you’re going to be able to stay in those apartment[s] with good jobs and then maybe get even better jobs.”

The developers, DB Urban Communities, Hamilton Partners, and a Denver investment partner bought the site from the State of Utah a few months back. They say the seven-story apartment building will have retail on the ground floor 210 units of what they call micro-townhomes.

Homeless Apartment Building

Photo Credit: dbURBAN

“We are planning micro units that are not subsidized by RDA, HOME Funds, or other incentive programs; but, will be able to reach individuals with incomes near the 65% AMI level and up,” said Dustin Holt, partner with dbURBAN Communities.

homeless apartment building

Photo Credit: dbURBAN

AMI stands for Average Median Income, and in Salt Lake City that’s $87,900 for a family of four. That means families making at little as $39, 500 per year could afford to live in these apartments, which have been nick-named the Rio. 

“This is what many people who are not homeless but don’t have huge salaraies, this is what they can afford. And this is what they’re looking for,” Atkinson said.

The site has long been in a spot of contention for the state and surrounding businesses. 

A little over a year ago, operation Rio Grande gave 71 people the opportunity to move into permanent housing and off the streets. Atkinson praised Utah’s Housing First policy, which aims to get people into apartments quickly instead of staying in homeless shelters for long periods of time.

Atkinson said she’s trying to view this building as helping low income families.

“I know some people will feel negative about this new buidling but I’m trying to look at other populations,” she said.

“So it’s not for our homeless friends but we do have other buildings we’re looking at for homeless people with small amounts of square footage.” 

Atkinson is currently serving as an Advisor to Gov. Spencer Cox, a role she has had with three previous Utah governors. She currently serves on the State Homeless Coordinating Committee, Envision Utah, Utah Coalition Against Pornography and the State Refugee Advisory Board.

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Long-time homeless advocate believes apartment building planned is positive