Erin Mendenhall for Salt Lake City
Expertise. Energy. Experience.
Where we live affects educational opportunities for our children, health outcomes for families, and whether or not we have easy access to the most basic needs, such as food and transportation. Homeowners and renters living on fixed incomes or earning low wages are being squeezed out of our neighborhoods, and too many young people who grow up here can’t afford to stay here, creating a massive drain on our economy.
Addressing our affordable housing crisis will help the city address economic inequities across communities. Although the city government does not control the housing market, Salt Lake City has already invested time and energy in identifying ways to address our affordable housing crisis, and we need to build on that momentum. Erin will ensure that the Mayor’s office works closely with the Council and city departments to put policies in place that will remove barriers to sustainable development, increase the number and quality of housing units being built in our city.
As mayor, Erin will:
The Redevelopment Agency is an important partner in addressing the affordable housing shortage. Erin is committed to continue her work with the RDA and housing developers to push for more affordable housing. Erin’s work to secure $21 million in funds for the RDA has led to great outcomes and she is committed to continuing her work with the RDA and developers to further expand the city’s stock of affordable housing.
Affordable housing is difficult to build and even harder to maintain. As the city works to increase funding and resource allocation to build the affordable housing that our city needs, Erin will advocate for funding to preserve the housing stock that we currently have and keep more of our neighbors in their homes.
Salt Lake City has a large number of rental units that are older and starting to deteriorate. When meeting with landlords and property owners, maintaining quality affordable housing is a significant challenge. Many older apartments have problems such as outdated HVAC systems, black mold, standing water, and other hazards common to rental units. Creating a low-interest loan program for landlords and property owners to utilize when repairs are needed but the funds aren’t there. This will help landlords maintain apartments that are safe for their residents. A preservation fund will also help ensure that as we try to find solutions to building more affordable housing, we aren’t increase the shortage of safe, stable, affordable places for people to live.
President Trump’s trade wars have driven up the cost of building materials and the private market is struggling to build as many affordable housing units as are needed. That means more low-income households are competing for a limited supply of affordable homes. We need complementary solutions that expand access to federal subsidies, stretch subsidy programs further, and open more neighborhoods to affordable housing options. Erin will collaborate with homebuilders and developers to diversify the types of affordable housing being produced and reduce barriers to getting housing on the ground.
Salt Lake City has a 7,467-unit deficit of deeply affordable housing units citywide, and while building these units is incredibly important to our city, buildings are quickly becoming the leading cause of carbon emissions. Erin will work with community partners and city leaders to develop incentives for developers and homebuilders who use solar and renewable technology.
Restrictive zoning codes and outdated land-use regulations can suppress housing supply, drive up housing costs, and widen racial and economic disparities. Salt Lake City zoning has denied some communities equal access to opportunity. By leveraging smart zoning reforms and easing building restrictions, we can unleash housing supply to help meet the needs of current and future residents.
Even with these efforts, the city should consider an inclusionary zoning policy that would that would require a minimum amount of affordable housing in new multi-family projects.
Changes in zoning allow developers to build housing that will address the shortage for those in the missing middle, diversification of housing stock and pricing, and ensure that affordable housing isn’t being built on one side of our city. Housing options need to meet the spectrum of needs of the community — from single-room occupancy to single-family and in between.
The Olympics can be an exciting time for a city and if we plan correctly, we can get the best outcome for our residents in terms of community benefit. Should Salt Lake City win the bid for the 2030 Olympics, Erin is committed to working with the Olympic Committee, the Salt Lake City Housing Authority, and community partners to designate Olympic village housing as affordable housing after the Olympics. All housing built for the Olympic athletes and staff will be deed-restricted and designated specifically as affordable housing following the Olympics.
The average Utah family spends 30 to 50 percent of its monthly budget on housing — and another 20 percent on transportation. Access to affordable transportation is just as important as access to housing, especially in a tight housing market. When a family is forced to leave the city to find housing they can afford, their transportation costs may increase due to commute length or lack of public transit. Erin will work to improve public transit in Salt Lake City by increasing bus routes and shared mobility options to underserved neighborhoods, expanding access to the HIVE pass program, and improving infrastructure along bus lines.
There is a growing disparity between wages and rents in Salt Lake City. Forty-nine percent of renters and 20 percent of homeowners are cost-burdened in their housing, paying between 50 and 70 percent of their income on housing and transportation costs. Another 24 percent of renters pay an even higher percentage just to live here. A key component to addressing Salt Lake City’s affordable housing crisis is increasing wages.
In order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Salt Lake City, an individual needs to make $20.67 per hour. Erin will work with local Chambers of Commerce, labor unions, and local businesses to develop a plan that will focus on bringing good-paying jobs into Salt Lake City so that residents are able to work and live in their city.