A lot of folks are going to be happy that $1400 is going to appear in their bank accounts from Ol’ Uncle Sam in a minute. That is if your adjusted gross income is below $75,000 or if you’re married, under $150,000 to get $2800. The payments are based on your 2019 or 2020 income depending on when you filed your 2020 tax return. Good news is that IF you OWE taxes, they won’t be taken out of the stimulus check if you qualify for that $1400 windfall. The stimulus package that Biden just signed also extended unemployment benefits for those who qualify until Sept. 6th, 2021 to the tune of $300 a week from the Feds which will be added on top of any Utah state unemployment benefits. The best thing about this new relief package is that people who got benefits in 2020 will not be taxes on that income under $10,200. Believe it or not, unemployment benefits are generally taxing during non-pandemic years.
Locally, the Utah State Legislature just ended it’s 45 day session and tried to make a dent in our housing crisis within our state borders. First, there’s going to be a designated housing/homelessness ‘Tzar’ with HB347, which will fund the one person standing on the top of the mountain to oversee homeless and low income projects and programs. They will oversee a new ‘Office of Homeless Services within the Department of Workforce Services’ and sit on the newly formed Utah Homelessness Council with state officials, members of the legislature, mayors, members of the public, service providers and religious leaders. There is also a huge amount of state funds going to preserving what little affordable housing units we have here. Simply stated, when an apartment building gets old and ratty, the owner(s) might sell to a flipper and the property torn down and replaced with higher priced housing. This bill will help rehab older buildings to keep them for affordable housing units. Another related bill (finally!) that pass is SB164 which required the State to conduct an inventory of surplus property owned by the state, throughout the state, to see if any of it can be used/converted to affordable housing. That one is a bid ‘DUH!’ I’ve been waiting to see for years!
The other bill I supported and even wrote in to support was HB82. We’re down almost 50,000 affordable housing units in this State and one of the answers to this crisis is allowing people to build ADU’s (accessory dwelling units) on their property. Basically, standardizing the myriad of city to city/county to county rules to allow for more of these to exist. Parents want to modify the ‘shack in the back’ to let Grandma live there or the kids while they are going to college. It’s hell for property owners in many cases to get these simple dwellings approved and hopefully this bill will make it easier to do so in the future to help make a dent in affordable housing options in Utah.