Salt Lake City is opening three new resource centers for the homeless this year and closing down its main downtown facility. With this transition looming, the city is trying to decide what to do with the homeless in the meantime. One option is for landlords to chip in and help solve the community-wide problem.
State Aims to Secure 100 New Homeless Homes | Pioneer Park Coalition
A New Initiative
On Monday, the Homeless Resource Center Transition Committee announced that it intends to house at least 100 people with federal vouchers when The Road Home permanently closes this coming fall. There is a problem though because the state has a low vacancy rate, and this means that the success of the housing vouchers is in the hands of the city’s landlords. Those who are in charge of approving tenants may hesitate to take in people who suffer from mental health challenges or don’t have a good rental history.
Spencer Cox, the Lieutenant Governor, said, “We have the vouchers, we have the tenants, and we just need more landlords to participate in this incredible program and give a big service back to the community.”
Helping Those Who Have Been Homeless for a While
The plan is to start with people who have been homeless for longer than six months. The plan will also use an additional $400,000 that the state funded to cover application fees and deposits. This money will be used to hire case managers to help homeless individuals find affordable housing. Case managers will also be helping people find jobs and show them how to gain access to other resources.
The Gap in Affordable Housing
According to housing advocates, the city has a pretty serious gap in affordable housing. Estimates show that Salt Lake City is short at least 7,500 apartments that those who earn $20,000 or less can afford. In fact, rent rose from $720 a month in 2010 to $1,072 in 2018. When people have a place of their own, they may be more likely to take steps to keep it. Living in an apartment is safer and healthier than the shelters.
What it Comes Down to
The vouchers give landlords the promise of consistent rent. For the homeless, housing is a key stabilizing force, one that can help those who are homeless due to mental health, employment or physical health issues. Tiffany Clement, the regional property manager of the Utah Nonprofit Housing Corp, said, “A lot of people have so many barriers that they can’t get housing, and we try our best to look past those barriers. If other landlords could just pitch in and help, we could get more people housed.”