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Group aims to greatly reduce homelessness in SLC before Olympics potentially returns

Aug 27, 2022, 10:52 PM

SALT LAKE CITYWhile we wait to find out if Salt Lake City will win the bid for an upcoming Winter Olympics, one group wants to solve an issue plaguing the area before the Games’ potential return.

People at Crossroads Urban Center’s poverty summit on Saturday said they’re seeing more homelessness.

“It actually started about three years ago when we had a fire and lost 90% of everything we owned,” said Melissa Hunt.

Hunt lives in a family shelter with her sister, Susy.

“My 3-year-old daughter has had two birthdays there,” Hunt added.

They said they can’t afford to pay rent.

“I’m a home health aid,” Hunt said. “I make $13 an hour.”

Speakers at the summit said the way to solve the issue is through affordable housing.

“We know that for human flourishing to happen here in Salt Lake City, Utah, our nation, the world, we have to have a common vision,” said Pastor Brigette Weier.

They propose adding nearly 3,000 units before a possible return of the Olympics in 2030 or 2034. Those include permanent supportive housing, shared housing, deeply affordable and permanently subsidized units.

“I think the benchmark of the potential Olympic Games is a healthy one. If we’re going to invite the world into Salt Lake City, let’s show the world that Salt Lake City is a community who cares,” Weier said.

Weier, who is a proponent of a housing first model, said it will take policy change and active participation from community members to get it done.

“It is ongoing funding in our State Legislature, in our county budgets, and our city budgets. It’s not one-time funding,” Weier said.

The steps taken need to be sustainable so the plan lasts beyond a potential future Olympic Games.

“What do we do when: a. we don’t meet it, or b. we meet it, and then, as was pointed out, we’ve met some of these deadlines before and didn’t keep going,” Weier said.

Hunt said people experiencing homelessness need help beyond housing.

“We do need to build more but put a rent gap on. Make these housing vouchers actually meet the rent. Put a gap on the rent,” Hunt said.

A plan to close the gaps on a deadline.

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Group aims to greatly reduce homelessness in SLC before Olympics potentially returns