During their 16th annual Utah Housing Matters Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 3, the Utah Housing Coalition named Summit County Council Member Sally Elliott Person of the Year.
"She was awarded for her years of service to the county and her substantial efforts to advance the cause for affordable housing here in Summit County," said Brian Guyer, Mountainlands Community Housing Trust CHIP Program Manager. "It's a prestigious award so it's exciting to have Summit County represented so well."
Elliott said the award was "lovely" and "unexpected." She said she never thought of herself as being identified strongly with affordable housing, but has been working on it for so many years that it has become a part of her.
If she hadn't been able to find affordable housing when she first moved to Park City in 1986, Elliott said she never could have afforded to buy into the market.
"So we were very lucky to come in during a downturn," Elliott said. "And then we were able to buy, first a smaller house and then this house the next year."
Elliott served on the Park City Council from 1990 to 1994, and then for six years on the Summit County Council from 2006 to present.
While on the Park City Council, Elliott helped pave the way for over 200 affordable housing apartments and for-sale units in Park City.
Elliott admits she did not know much about affordable housing when she first took office in 1990, but she quickly learned everything she needed to know and became a staunch advocate.
"Then on the Summit County Council, we worked very hard to come into compliance with state law and federal guidelines. And not just that. It's the right thing to do," Elliott said.
While serving on the County Council, Elliott supported Development Code changes that required developers to include on-site affordable housing.
The Council also adopted an ordinance that prevented developers from circumventing the restrictions, which had been a problem as the real estate market was rising.
To further ensure developers were complying with the requirements, the Council contracted with Mountainlands Community Housing Trust to monitor affordable housing restrictions.
To address the housing needs of Park City area seasonal employees, Elliott convened a Seasonal Housing Working Group that brought together police, social service agencies and housing programs. She also helped address the housing needs of senior citizens.
Elliott has served on the boards of Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, the Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties and the Affordable Housing Committee of the Park City Board of Realtors.
"So she's been able to work with us hand-in-hand in advancing the cause of affordable housing here in Park City and Summit County," Guyer said. "People who work in Park City should have the opportunity to live here. The drive from Heber or Salt Lake City to Park City is not always the greatest. And it really helps with the character and diversity of the city to have variety."
Elliott said she is thrilled to bring attention to what Park City and Summit County have been able to do for affordable housing.
"It's something that you never finish," she said. "There's always another need. But it's important to keep working on it, and it's great to have so much community support for what we do."