Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL, File

Salt Lake City mayoral candidate Luz Escamilla releases affordable housing plan

By Carter Williams, | Posted - Oct. 9, 2019 at 7:03 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Sen. Luz Escamilla, one of two candidates in line to be the next Salt Lake City mayor, unveiled her plan for affordable housing last week, which she boasts is “more comprehensive” than the plan previously released by her opponent, Salt Lake City councilor Erin Mendenhall.

In her plan released Friday, Escamilla called for an eight-point plan to address a shortage of nearly 7,500 rental units in the city, arguing that the city cannot wait 10 years to address affordable housing for those starting their careers, living on fixed incomes and struggling to make ends meet.

Her plan calls for:

  • Ensuring “reliable, significant and ongoing” funding for the city’s Housing Trust Fund and Redevelopment Agency. This portion of the plan would include the “creation of new units for those at 40% or below area median income, preservation of existing affording housing” and developing housing for those experiencing homelessness.
  • Creating a timeline within the first two months in office to figure out existing and underutilized city-owned properties and a timetable to develop them into affordable housing options.
  • Creating Permanent Supportive Housing to address homelessness. This would also give residents “ongoing supportive service” for those experiencing homelessness in addition to housing.
  • Partnering with state agencies to create a housing voucher program to ease housing/rent cost burdens for residents.
  • Using the city’s Community Land Trust to preserve existing affordable housing. Escamilla states there are about 1,500 current affordable housing units in danger of being lost to developers in the foreseeable future. This action would require housing providers who use city funds to keep “affordable rental rates” and put “safeguards in place so that the buildings remain safe and healthy.”
  • Urging a variety of affordable housing options accessible to a mix of incomes for communities within the city.
  • Becoming a member of the Enterprise Green Community national program, which will promote sustainability and a cleaner environment.
  • Streamlining city zoning ordinances and approval processes so both provide the right housing in a “timely and efficient” manner.
The plan comes after Mendenhall released her plan on Sept. 25. Her plan called for a seven-step process that called for city funds to incentivize affordable housing construction, preserve current affordable housing options and reform zoning codes to allow for more housing types in economically diverse communities.

Escamilla received an endorsement from outgoing mayor Jackie Biskupski on Monday, whereas businessman and former mayoral candidate David Ibarra announced his endorsement for Mendenhall last Thursday, as both continue to rack up endorsements.

The general election for the city’s next mayor will be held Nov. 5.

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