Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Scott Loomis, Executive DirectorMountainlands Community Housing Trust

Since 2003, Mountainlands Community Housing Trust (MCHT) has received funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support its Transitional Housing Program (THP) for temporarily homeless residents of Summit and Wasatch Counties. On May 2, MCHT received notice from HUD that its current grant of $120,943 which covers lease payments, salaries for case work and administrative expenses, will not be renewed effective June 1.

MCHT currently rents 10 apartments throughout the Park City area that are used to house individuals and families who become temporarily homeless due to domestic violence, divorce, loss of jobs, medical expenses and other emergencies. Since 2003, 139 families and 343 individuals have been provided free rent and casework through the THP. The initial HUD grant allowed MCHT to rent five units for temporary housing, but due to demand this increased to nine units by 2009. Under HUD funding requirements, MCHT must provide matching funds from other sources.

Matching funds have been generously provided by United Way, The George S. and Delores Doré Eccles Foundation, Park City Community Foundation, Promontory Foundation, Park City Rotary Club, Sunrise Rotary Club and support from the Live P.C. Give P.C campaign. Through strong community support MCHT was able to increase the number of transitional housing units to as many as 11 before increasing rents caused a reduction to the current 10 units.

HUD funds are awarded through a Continuum of Care that represents Utah, Wasatch and Summit Counties. MCHT funds were the only monies received through the Continuum of Care for Summit or Wasatch Counties. Recently, HUD lowered the priority of transitional housing programs for funding, with most funding now going to programs for the chronically homeless. In addition to the above local support, MCHT’s program has for years received $10,000 in matching funds from the State of Utah’s Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund, but with the loss of HUD funding it will no longer receive this support.

This loss is devastating. While the THP program has operated mostly under the radar, it has filled an incredible need for our community. Through intensive case work over 95 percent of participants have found permanent housing and successfully completed the program. Participants received free rent while they were undergoing difficult times. They paid ten percent (10percent) of their income to MCHT which was held in trust so when they found permanent housing they had sufficient funds for security deposits and first-month’s rent. We know the loss of funding will directly impact many because we’ve always had a substantial wait list. Nearly everyone entering the program had never before been in the homeless ‘system’. Those who have utilized the program were humbled to be asking for help but extremely grateful MCHT was able to provide assistance during their time of need.

The immediate crisis is finding funds and housing for the 10 participants in the program. We must also deal with unfunded lease commitments. Once the dust settles MCHT will come up with some variation of the program with at least 4-6 units available for temporary housing. We will try to expand funding from local sources to continue this valuable community need.

MCHT is a non-profit organization with a mission to create, preserve and advocate for affordable housing in Summit and Wasatch Counties. It has built 180 homes since 2002 with 12 currently under construction. It owns 253 apartments with 28 more under construction. Visit "" for more information.