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Salt Lake City Council approves affordable housing ‘road map’

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Council approved a new, five-year housing plan with a focus on affordable homes Tuesday in a unanimous vote.

"It couldn’t have come at a better time," said Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall, at the council’s weekly meeting at City Hall.

The proposal from Mayor Jackie Biskupski is the first five-year strategy since 2000, and it aims to solve an affordable housing shortage in Utah’s capital city.

Biskupski in a statement said the plan will help "build a city where everyone can live." She said she has issued a memo directing city employees to craft an ordinance by Jan. 31 that will require "affordable housing options" on all property the city sells.

Her plan, dubbed Growing SLC, has three main goals: put reforms in place to spur a responsive, affordable, housing market; boost housing opportunities and stability for low-income households; and create more equitable and fair housing.

Council Chairman Stan Penfold has said the blueprint doesn’t put any changes in place but sets groundwork for possible initiatives, including partnering with developers; ponying up in order to cut costs for some affordable units; and exploring different types of zoning to create incentives.

It’s the first such plan on the city’s books in more than 10 years. It comes alongside a $17.6 million infusion the council approved last week for the city to build new homes, including those for low-income families.

"Now we have a great roadmap," said Councilman Derek Kitchen.

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