by Bill Tibbitts
Today is the first day of the 2018 session of the Utah Legislature. Over the course of 45 days legislators will review hundreds of bills and pass an almost $17 billion budget. The Coalition of Religious Communities has two big priorities that we are asking legislators to focus on.
The first of these priorities is issuing $100 million in bonds to address Utah's housing crisis. The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce has identified housing affordability as Utah's biggest unaddressed economic risk because for the first time in 40 years there are more households than available housing units in our state. This situation is particularly desperate for low income families. Between 2005 and 2015 the number of apartments that are affordable to low income families declined by 12,482 in the Salt Lake City metro area. Low income families are being priced out of the housing market in many other parts of the state also.
Specific types of housing that could be made possible by a $100 million state housing bond include:
• Permanent supportive housing for homeless families with children who need a place to stabilize as the parents find a new job and/or increase their ability to be self sufficient,
• Recovery housing that supports individuals in staying sober after exiting treatment for substance use,
• Housing that is affordable and available for people reentering society after a period of incarceration, and,
• Apartments that are affordable for families earning less than $30,000 per year so that they are not one unexpected expense away from becoming homeless.
CORC's second big legislative priority is the elimination of the sales tax on food in Utah. Taxing food is such an unfair and unpopular idea that only thirteen states in the whole country charge sales tax on unprepared food. Taxes on food hurt low income families more than other families because food makes up such a big share of their total budgets. Representative Tim Quinn will be talking about his bill that eliminates the state portion of Utah's sales tax on food at CORC's Faith & Poverty Day at the Utah Capitol on Thursday morning. Everyone is welcome to come an be part of a multi-faith effort to make life better for Utahns living in poverty.
I hope to see you there!
Bonding for housing and eliminating the sales tax on food: CORC's legislative priorities for 2018
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