Record editorial: Stigma surrounding affordable housing must be eradicated
The demand for affordable housing in Park City continues to grow.
That much is clear after more than 160 people submitted applications for 34 deed-restricted townhomes that will be constructed in the Silver Creek Village Center in the coming months.
While progress is being made to chip away at the affordable housing crisis — the Silver Creek units and a handful of Park City workforce housing projects stand as the largest examples — a troubling misconception about the efforts remain.
People in the trenches working to address the issue in Summit County say that, despite all the attention on affordable housing, there’s a damaging stigma surrounding those who need it. Some people, advocates say, conjure a picture of inner-city projects when they think about affordable housing in Summit County. They worry we’re inviting people into our neighborhoods who won’t contribute to our vibrant community.
Says Scott Loomis, the executive director of the nonprofit Mountainlands Community Housing Trust: “I’ve heard comments like, ‘We can’t have affordable housing next to a school’ when, in fact, it is the teacher who is going to live in that housing.”
That such concerns persist is frustrating. The people our affordable housing projects target are those who make Park City what it is — in addition to teachers, they’re police officers and municipal employees and small business owners and service-industry workers. That’s why so many community leaders, from elected officials to heads of nonprofits, have acknowledged the importance of addressing the housing shortfall.
Unfortunately, we are still a long way from solving the crisis. The disparity between the number of people jumping at the chance to purchase one of the affordable homes in Silver Creek and the number of units available illustrates that it will take more than just one or two additional housing developments to ensure people who want to contribute to our community can actually live here.
Fixing the problem will require the continued focus of the county and city governments, as well as commitment from the private sector. Importantly, it will also take sustained buy-in from residents. While many Parkites understand the benefits of affordable housing and have supported the efforts to provide it, some clearly do not.
It’s time for the rest of us to educate them and eradicate the lingering stigma surrounding affordable housing once and for all.
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The Olympics would be a great opportunity for Summit County to tap into federal dollars for the benefit of infrastructure improvements, but it’s unclear if the county will have any influence on the bid committee.