You might have heard the term ‘thriving in place’ as of late when it comes to Salt Lake City and the City Council. What does it mean and how does it impact you and I? If you want to do some deep diving on your own skip ahead and go to www.thrivinginplaceslc.org and you can get the 411 on how the Council and citizens are attempting to analyze and understand gentrification and displacement in various neighborhoods. The goal is to create a plan of action like many other cities in the country experiencing similar issues are attempting to do as well.
City officials started the process in two phases: 1) listening and learning from their constituents about their experiences of gentrification and displacement and documenting various community assets such as cultural resources, special places and identifying people, groups and organizations that contribute to the area and 2) from the data working up priorities and potential actions for addressing things like displacement and creating long-term solutions that can help residents and communities remain in place.
What has been learned thus far? The obvious: when growth happens and new development doesn’t keep pace with demand, housing prices go up and renters and home buyers can’t afford to live where they had called home. Buildings are torn down, and large apartment complexes go up in their place with rents double or triple what lessees had been paying before. Obviously when people are forced to move out of their neighborhoods the result can be cultural displacement. Lower income households are often made up of people of color and immigrants and when developers bring in new living spaces mostly only white people can afford to rent or buy. Small minority businesses like salons, bodegas, etc. disappear and multi-national corporations move in, like Starbucks.
The studies here so far have found displacement in SLC is significant and getting worse. That there are no more ‘affordable’ neighborhoods where lower income families can move once displaced. There are still not enough housing units overall, especially those geared for low-income families. Over half of our renter households are spending more than 30% of their income on housing.
The City is learning that there are no magic fixes, no matter what Mayor Mendenhall is touting in her re-election speeches. There are plans to learn from cities like Portland, Oregon’s Rental Services Office that provides training for landlords and tenants to help with resources to have our own type of center by 2024. To advance the priority of helping lower income renters build equity, the City is considering a partnership with Utah’s Perpetual Housing Fund and has proposed investing $10 million to help capitalize their work in support of Salt Lake City renters. I encourage you to at least go to the website and read the 69 page report of what’s happened and what’s planned because this affects ALL of us in the city and state.