City seeks developers for affordable housing loan program

Like most of the country, Salt Lake City is experiencing an affordable housing crisis.  In the last year, the city’s rents grew faster than every major metro area except Orlando, Florida.  As rents are beginning to stabilize in many large metro areas, Salt Lake’s keeps climbing.  To help combat the housing shortage, last week Salt Lake City officials announced a pilot renovation program aimed at preserving existing affordable housing stock throughout the city.

Salt Lake City’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Division (HAND), which kicked-off the program with a $1 million Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) to attract owners of multi-family housing to apply.

According to city officials, the pilot program is the result of the city’s recently adopted affordable housing plan, GrowingSLC, and will use funds made available as part of the $21 million set aside by the city late last year for use in addressing affordable housing.

“Preserving existing housing stock is a cost-effective and efficient way of ensuring long-term affordability in the market,” said Melisa Jensen, Director of Salt Lake City’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Division in a statement. “In many cases, the City loses affordable housing opportunities when units are renovated and then placed into the open market.”

Under the program, the city will make low-interest renovation loans available to building owners who will keep rents at 60 percent AMI or below, or approximately $800 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

In May, the Salt Lake City Council acting as the Redevelopment Agency’s Board of Directors added additional conditions to the NOFA process that would prioritize projects that are near transit corridors, in high opportunity and mixed-income neighborhoods,  are sustainable, offer diversity of housing types, encourage neighborhood revitalization, demonstrate long-term affordability and discourage the displacement of current residents.

A 2016 report showed that Salt Lake City need 7,500 affordable housing units.  According to officials, since that time, Salt Lake City has invested $6.2 million from the city’s Housing Trust Fund to create approximately 800 affordable units. Further investments called for in the city’s housing plan are anticipated to bring an additional 1,000 units online in the next two years. Last week, the Salt Lake City Council approved next fiscal year’s budget that includes $4 million to implement the GrowingSLC housing plan.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, depending on the zip code, Salt Lake City residents must earn between $17.31 and $29.81 an hour to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment.

“There is no one solution to addressing the affordable housing crisis Salt Lake City is facing,” said Jensen. “The fundamental goal of GrowingSLC is to explore a wide variety of opportunities to increase vibrancy in the housing market and to provide security for vulnerable residents.”

Applications for the $1 million Notice of Funding Availability are due June 29.  Information can be found here: www.slc.gov/hand/funding-programs.

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