Salt Lake City Considers Controversial Proposal To Build Affordable Housing

Apr 23, 2019, 10:50 PM | Updated: 10:53 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Dozens of protesters called on Salt Lake City leaders to find solutions for affordable housing on Tuesday, as council members considered an ordinance that would allow more single-room housing units to be built in the city.

Only one such building exists right now in the city – and that’s the Rio Grande Hotel.

“It worked out for me,” said Kevin Nelson, a tenant at the hotel. “God opened the door for me.”

He lives in a small room on the first floor that’s just big enough for his bed, a small fridge, a microwave, closet and his bike. He shares bathrooms, showers and a large kitchen with several other tenants on the floor.

“With the economy and everything that’s going up. The cost of living has gone up. This is, this is perfect,” Nelson said. “A step up for me from being homeless.”

It was just the right amount of space and affordability to help get him off the streets.

And it’s just that sort of single-room occupancy housing (SROs) that brought dozens of passionate demonstrators to the Salt Lake City building on Tuesday.

“Housing is a human right,” the group chanted ahead of the city council meeting.

Then the group of a few dozen filed into the city council chambers and added their voices to an ordinance that would allow more single-room occupancy units in more areas of the city.

The proposal received mixed reaction during the meeting. Some hoped the affordable units would help fight homelessness.

Some worried about them bringing violence to the proposed areas.

“We cannot solve the problems with the crime-magnet hotels. You shouldn’t even be talking about SROs,” one man said.”

Others said more needs to be done to solve unaffordable housing.

“It’s a step in the right direction. It is not enough. So I ask you, what’s the plan?”

“I can’t be opposed to it because it’s better than the road home,” Bernie Hart said, adding, “but I don’t know how much better.”

Hart suggests opening up only a couple of buildings with the units and then gathering data to determine whether they are successful in helping the homeless get back on their feet. Otherwise, he says, they’ll be just like another homeless shelter.

The units would be as small as 100-square feet and would include shared amenities like bathrooms and kitchens. The proposed ordinance change would allow the single-room occupancy units to be built in parts of Sugar House, the Liberty Wells district, neighborhoods west of the capitol, Rose Park and Glendale.

For now, the Rio Grande Hotel is the only building with the units. And at least one tenant hopes that type of housing doesn’t end here.

“I give thumbs up to it,” Nelson said. “Double thumbs up.”

The cost of the rooms would vary depending on size. Nelson said he pays $350 per month for his room. He also has the option of paying $96 per week.

The city council could vote on the proposed ordinance as early as May 7th.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Peter Ingle talking to Matt Gephardt...
Matt Gephardt & Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Too risky to insure? Why your homeowner’s insurance could go up in smoke

There are good reasons for an insurance company to drop your homeowner’s coverage. But what happens when you’re dropped for something you have no control over? KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt went out to find: can they do that?
24 hours ago
(Utah State Parks)...
Andrew Adams

WWII-era seaplane makes unexpected water landing at Willard Bay after mechanical issue

A World War II-era seaplane that took part in the Warriors over the Wasatch Air & Space Show at Hill Air Force Base over the weekend was in need of a tow Monday after coasting onto the glassy waters of the bay following a mechanical problem.
24 hours ago
(Ogden City Police Department)...
Madison Swenson

Teen missing, last seen in the Shadow Valley area of Ogden

Ogden police are asking for the public's help in locating a 16-year-old girl who was last seen early Monday morning.
24 hours ago
Hundreds of protesters marched in Provo for abortion rights....

Supreme Court’s abortion ruling sets off new court fights

Judges have temporarily blocked abortion bans in Louisiana and Utah, while a federal court in South Carolina said a law sharply restricting the procedure would take effect there immediately.
24 hours ago
FILE: Utah State Representative Phil Lyman, R-Blanding talks with KSL about the restitution order a...
McKenzie Romero, Deseret News & Ladd Egan, KSL-TV

GOP lawmaker alleges fraud in Utah primary election. State says otherwise

A Utah GOP lawmaker posted election fraud claims in their primary election on social media, only for state officials to debunk the claims.
24 hours ago
Juliet Nielsen was eager to welcome her fourth child into the world when a checkup flagged a proble...
Michael Locklear

Why this mom’s abortion decision challenged her family’s religious beliefs

A mother of three is sharing her heartbreaking experience of losing a baby. She hopes her personal story will encourage compassion, pointing out that abortion decisions are nuanced.
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Salt Lake City Considers Controversial Proposal To Build Affordable Housing