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Sugar House Journal

Growing SLC housing plan presented to community council

May 08, 2017 09h35 ● By Kelly Cannon

Matt Dahl explains the Growing SLC housing plan to the community council. (Kelly Cannon/City Journals)

By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski recently announced the release of Growing SLC, a five-year plan that addresses the housing needs of Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County. The plan was presented to the Sugar House Community Council during their April 5 meeting. The plan was presented by Matt Dahl, the deputy director of Salt Lake City Housing and Neighborhood Development.

According to Dahl, Growing SLC is the first housing plan Salt Lake has done since 2000.

“Growing SLC is intended to establish Salt Lake as a place where a growing diverse population can find housing opportunities that are safe, secure and enrich lives and communities. The plan outlines housing policies through which Salt Lake City will advance this vision,” Dahl said. “Growing SLC imagines a city where all residents, current and prospective, regardless of race, age, economic status or physical ability can find a place to call home.”

Dahl explained in developing this plan, they wanted to make sure they had ample data and feedback before the plan was put together. They hired consultants who conducted a number of surveys. They also held open houses over the course of 2016 to receive input from the public.

What they found from the surveys was 50 percent of Salt Lake City’s renters are what’s considered to be “rent-burdened,” meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Twenty-five percent of renters are extremely rent-burdened, meaning they spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent.

“When you look at the sheer number of renters who are cost-burdened, that’s not just people who are making extremely low incomes. There are people who are making middle class incomes who are cost-burdened,” Dahl said. “In all of these cases, we’re not even talking about the best housing. Prices are getting so high in Salt Lake City that often times, for subpar housing for people in those lower income brackets are spending more than 50 percent of their income.”

The surveys also determined there was a lack of around 7,500 housing units for people making 40 percent of the median income in the city.

“That’s one of the biggest ones we hit on but there are a lot of other gaps that we have. The important thing to point out here is we’re not just talking about that lowest income,” Dahl said. “We’re talking about the lack of supply, high demand that’s raising the price for everyone and that’s why we needed to get this plan into place.”

Dahl explained 84 percent of the workforce in Salt Lake City do not actually live in the city because they can’t afford it. That workforce traveling into Salt Lake City leads to problems such as air pollution and clogged up transportation system.

“It’s providing other negative consequences to people who already live here,” Dahl said.

Growing SLC has three goals, with each goal having a number of objectives they are trying to achieve. The first goal is to increase housing options by reforming city practices to promote a responsive, affordable, high-opportunity housing market. The different objectives to achieve this goal are to modernize land-use and zoning regulations to reflect the affordability needs of a growing pioneering city, remove impediments in city processes to encourage housing development, lead in construction of innovative housing solutions and provide residents, community advocates, business leaders and elected officials with high quality data to drive decision making.

The second goal is to increase housing opportunities and stabilization for cost-burdened households. The objectives include prioritizing the development of new affordable housing with an emphasis on households earning 40 percent of the area median income and below, pursuing funding sources for affordable housing opportunities, stabilizing very low-income renters, securing and preserving long-term affordability, working with landlords to both improve their housing stock and rent to low-income households and increasing home ownership opportunities.

The final goal is building a more equitable city through equitable and fair housing. The objectives include eliminating incidences of housing discrimination in Salt Lake City, aligning resources to create areas of opportunity and implementing Lifecycle Housing principles in neighborhoods throughout the city.

To learn more about the Growing SLC housing plan, visit