Salt Lake City

Community and Neighborhoods

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Housing SLC

An apartment building on 500 W with a mural of a man and a young girl smiling. The words "Housing SLC" appear on top of the image.

Housing SLC

10/28/2022: Thank you to those who have provided feedback! We are working on a first draft of the 5 Year Housing Plan, which will be available for public comment in January 2023. Have questions or comments? Email HousingSLC@slcgov.com.

Project Summary

Salt Lake City is creating a new housing plan. We want a city where everyone feels welcome, safe, and comfortable. We want a city that belongs to everyone and where everyone can live affordably. We want to create a plan for Housing SLC. 

Housing is a community issue, and we need community solutions. We need community help and community support. We need all people to raise your voices and tell us what you want, what you need, and how we can help make Salt Lake City into the best city we can. We need you to help create Housing SLC and to keep the City on track.  

This website has different ways to get involved. Please explore the page, find ways that interest you, and sign up for updates. 

Background Information

 Growing SLC, Salt Lake City’s housing plan, is in its final year, which means that a new plan is needed. As the city grows, we want to make sure that the benefits of growth are shared by all. We want our next plan to focus on making sure that everyone who wants to live in the city can do so affordably. That’s why we’re excited to start work on Housing SLC, the City’s new housing plan for the next five years. 

Housing SLC will set goals and a plan of action for making housing in Salt Lake City more available to people of all incomes. Housing SLC will explore policies, land use practices, resources, and funding that can help make housing in our city better, safer, and more affordable. This website is where you can find everything about the new plan, as well as learn more about housing and find ways to get involved. 

What is a housing plan? 

A housing plan is more than a vision. It is a plan of action for making housing safer, more affordable, and more available to everyone. It is an opportunity to set goals and make plans to reach those goals. The State of Utah requires that cities have a housing plan that meets certain requirements. Housing SLC will meet those requirements, but it will do so much more. It will help guide the City’s efforts for the next five years, and it will encourage ways that the community can be involved in making Salt Lake City a place where we all can thrive. 

Why does a housing plan matter? 

We all need housing. And we all need housing that meets our needs. Over the past few years, Salt Lake City has become less affordable, and far too many people are spending far too much of their income on having a place to sleep at night. Far too many people can’t find housing. New housing is being built at a record pace, but people are still being priced out and displaced. Without a plan to set a vision, goals, and a plan of action, we can’t hope for change. And the City can’t do it on its own. We need help from residents, non-profits, other governments, and community organizations. We need your voice to tell us which policies, programs, and services you want, and what we should fund.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a housing plan?

A housing plan is sets goals and priorities to help make living in Salt Lake City safer, more affordable, and more comfortable for everyone. Too many people spend too much of their income on housing, and without a plan, nothing will change. A housing plan will guide City efforts on policies, programs, and funding opportunities to make it easier and more affordable to live.

What did the last SLC Housing Plan accomplish? How does it relate to this new Housing Plan?

Growing SLC accomplished or made significant progress toward accomplishing 27 of 27 goals (so far). You can check out a progress update from December 2021 here. While Growing SLC saw success, the dramatic increases in housing costs were unforeseen, taking everyone by surprise. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic had dramatic impacts on the cost to build housing.

Why do we need a housing plan?

Everyone needs housing. And everyone needs safe, comfortable, and adequate housing that they can afford. If we don’t have a housing plan, we are saying that we trust that the market will solve the problem for us. We have seen enough to know that the market will not solve the housing crisis. Rents and for-sale housing costs have increased rapidly and much faster than wages. Putting together a plan of action to intervene and help make housing more affordable for everyone, but especially individuals and families with low incomes, is not only the right thing to do, but it is essential for a functioning society.

How does affordable housing relate to environmental sustainability, transit access, parks and green space access, access to schools, etc.?

Housing is one of the most important pieces of life, and it is connected to everything. A thoughtful housing policy should include goals for reducing household impacts on the environment, including transitioning toward renewable energy, but it should also include safe and affordable access to reliable public transit options and options for biking and walking. Housing should not be built far away from the places that people need to go: grocery stores, work, schools, and recreation. Housing should provide access to all of these places so that households can live, work, play, grow, and thrive in one spot. When housing is far away from needed resources, household costs increase and quality of life decreases. As part of this plan, we want to make sure that we are not only planning for housing needs, but for the needs of households, so that they can thrive where they are.

What does the RDA do and how do they fit into the housing plan?

The RDA’s mission is “Strengthening neighborhoods and business districts to improve livability, create economic opportunity, and foster authentic, equitable communities.” They develop and manage project areas that gather funding that can help areas grow. Through these project areas, they collect funding that is dedicated to creating affordable housing. The RDA’s Board of Director’s has established the need for deeply affordable (30% AMI) housing and the need for family housing as priorities for the RDA. You can find out more here.

How can I provide input on the housing plan?

An initial survey is coming soon. While you wait for that, you can sign up for our newsletter, send us photos of what home means to you, and come to the events we host. Read through the website and find out other ways to get involved. You can visit one of our community-comment drop-boxes (which will be available soon!) and join us at in-person events. If you want to have City staff present at your event or provide information to your organization, you can write to HousingSLC@slcgov.com.

How does zoning impact affordable housing?

Zoning determines what can be built where. Some areas of the city are zoned for single family homes, others are zoned for industrial uses. Still others allow a mix of uses. Because zoning sets the rules for what can go where, it matters a lot to housing. In a built-out city like Salt Lake City, changing zoning to allow for more density – and more housing – in more places helps us build more housing, which can help lower the costs of housing. There are also zoning tools that also allow the City to encourage affordable housing in different areas. Zoning changes are passed by the City Council.

Where can I find affordable housing?

You can visit the Utah Affordable Housing Database to find affordable housing throughout the state. You can also visit the Housing Stability division’s website for more resources. For immediate assistance, you can call the Housing Authority of Salt Lake City at 801-487-2161.

Why is housing so expensive?

There are a number of reasons why housing is so expensive.

• After the Great Recession, housing development slowed down a lot. Population growth, however, did not slow. This created a mismatch between supply and demand. There are far more people needing a place to live than there are places to live. A report by the Kem C. Gardner Policy institute estimates that Utah is facing a shortage of over 44,000 housing units. This means that there is just not enough housing for people.

• Because there are not enough units, landlords can continue to raise rents, knowing that people will pay because people need places to live.

• The State of Utah does not allow cities to implement rent control policies. This means that the City can’t put a cap on how much rent can be increased each year.

• Wages have also stagnated. Since the 1970s, wages have stayed pretty much the same when adjusted for inflation. So even though the rents have increased a lot, wages have not kept pace. The minimum wage hasn’t been increased since 2009.

• In the 1970s, the Federal government stopped building public housing projects and shifted to more market-based solutions to housing people. This means that housing costs are up to landlords and developers. Re-investing in publicly owned housing or creating opportunities for community-owned housing can help keep rents more affordable.

Why is there so much new housing development going up, but new affordable housing is still limited?

• Building housing is expensive and developers and investors need to not only pay off loans but also have returns on investment. To do that, they need to have rents that cover their costs and bring in the return on investment. To build affordable housing this way, public dollars need to be invested to subsidize the units so that the lower rents can allow for loans to be repaid and returns on investment to be met. The more affordable the rent, the more subsidy has to be committed to make it work financially.

• The cost to build housing has increased over the past two years as supply chains have made materials more expensive and as there is a shortage of construction labor. These are hard barriers to overcome for a private developer. It is easier, and a safer investment, to build for market rate renters, which means that affordable housing may not be built at the rate it is needed.

• The market will never build deeply affordable housing (affordable to people making 30% of the area median income). Housing is too expensive to build and deeply affordable rents too low that a project will not make economic sense. Governments and non-profit developers need to fill this market gap.

What tools can the City use to make housing more affordable?

There are multiple ways that the City can make housing more affordable.

• Subsidizing (paying for) affordable units in private developments

• Waiving fees for developers

• Putting housing units into a Community Land Trust

• Zoning changes that allow for increased density and pairing these with affordability requirements

• Incentives for developers building affordable housing

• Publicly developing and owning housing (this tool is not currently available, but could be an option moving forward)

What are my rights as a renter?

As a renter, you have

• The right to fair housing (Federal Fair Housing Act & State Fair Housing Act)

• The right to habitable living conditions (Utah Fit Premises Act) and Salt Lake Fit Premises Ordinance

• The right to Peaceful Enjoyment (Utah Fit Premises Act)

Read the Utah Housing Coalition’s Tenant Toolkit (Español | عربي | Tiếng Việt)

How does this plan relate/connect to Thriving in Place (TIP) and gentrification?

Thriving in Place is an anti-displacement plan, which is a crucial part of any complete housing plan. It will be incorporated into Housing SLC with the findings and proposals being included as key elements. Housing SLC will go beyond Thriving in Place to include more than anti-displacement strategies, creating a holistic housing plan for the city.

What does the City have in our control? And are there limits on what the City can do?

State law prohibits the City from enacting rent control policies, increasing the minimum wage, changing eviction policies (the timelines, costs, and the right to counsel, for instance), and certain land use policies like inclusionary zoning (requiring that all new developments either include affordable housing or pay into a fund for the creation of affordable housing).

While we can’t do these things, there are ways that we can achieve similar goals:

• Rent control: City or community ownership of more units, deed-restricting more units (requiring income-eligibility requirements)

• Increasing minimum wage: invest in job programs (in jobs that pay above a living wage); require all City contractors to pay their employees/subcontractors a living wage; lower the costs of other essentials (food, health and dental care, childcare, transportation, etc.)

• Evictions: Fund rental assistance programs, legal funds to ensure that anyone facing eviction has counsel, and creating a one-stop-shop for housing programs

Learn more about housing and state requirements for housing plans


Community Events

Join us at our community events to learn more about what we are doing, provide your feedback, and meet other interested residents. This page will be updated when the dates and locations are finalized.

Housing SLC events will return after the holiday season! Community feedback is vital to our housing plan – we won’t publish updates or hold events while the public is extra busy. We are working on compiling a first draft of the 5 Year Housing Plan, which will be available for public comment and review in January 2023.


Get Involved

Follow along and get notifications by signing up for email updates.

Provide input on what the new housing plan should include.


Housing SLC Timeline

The new housing plan needs to be adopted by June 30, 2023. In order to meet this deadline, we have put together a timeline of our process.

The graphic shows the anticipated timeline for Housing SLC. The graphic includes four boxes to represent the four steps of the process. 
 
Box one reads: Step One: Community Engagement, from July - August 2022. Gathering community values and experiences with housing via tabling, online survey and in-person drop boxes. 

Box two reads: Community Learning and Engagement, from August to October 2022. Supporting community learning through free film screenings, book clubs and other events. 

Box three reads: Step 3: Analysis and Sharing, from November to December 2022. Compiling community feedback and sharing what we learn. 

Box four reads: Step 4: Plan Review and Completion, from January to April 2023. Presenting the draft plan to the public for review and presentation to the City Council.

Learn More About Housing

You can find other film and book recommendations for you and your family members by visiting one of the Salt Lake City Library branches. At the library, you can also provide provide feedback in our comment boxes and vote on housing priorities, strategies, and other factors to help shape our housing plan.

Segregated By Design from Silkworm on Vimeo.