Potential regional housing authority hits snag: lack of federal funding

Federal funding for a new housing authority is no longer available, HUD says

PARK CITY, Utah — The Park City Council and Summit County Council heard updates on a possible regional housing authority yesterday at a special joint meeting held at the Sheldon Richins Building.

The Housing Authority Exploration Committee was formed in April this year to examine the possibility of establishing a regional housing authority in the Wasatch Back.

According to A Summit County Council staff report, staff has determined that there are essentially two ways in which a regional housing authority could be formed:

  1. Summit County could create a countywide Housing Authority and receive permission from cities and townships in the form of a local agreement to operate within their respective boundaries.
  2. Summit County and any city or township within Summit County could form Housing Authorities and join those authorities through a cooperative agreement.

However, federal funding for a new housing authority is limited. Staff learned from a representative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that federal housing assistance programs and Housing Choice Vouchers would never be made available to a new housing authority, reflecting a national “transition from Public Housing.”

The Housing Choice Voucher program enables very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford housing in the private market.

“While disappointed to learn that Housing Choice Vouchers would not be made available to new housing authorities, the sub-committee feels that with the establishment of a new regional housing authority, the region (Authority) would be in a much better position to access new federal funding programs If/when they become available,” stated a Summit County Council staff report.

The Housing Authority Exploration Committee meets weekly, and will continue to examine funding options as they enter into the budget development phase. Recently, staff has been working to solicit feedback from community partners, such as nonprofits, school districts and employers.

Out of the 17 community partners interviewed, all responded that they believed that a regional housing authority could offer something to their organization that is currently missing.

53% responded that they believe that housing policy in the area is moving in the right direction, but is not yet effective, and 94% of respondents said that they think  finding affordable housing in Summit County/Park City is a “big problem.”

Staff has also scheduled interviews with other housing authorities located in resort communities, and issued a survey through the Colorado Association of Ski Towns.

Another discussion on the potential of a regional housing authority will be held at the next joint council meeting in November.

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