Where: Rural Utah

Issue:  Low-income rural households are increasingly burdened by housing costs and lack opportunities to access afford­able housing

Outcome: RCAC creates the Utah Capacity Building Collaborative to help agencies increase affordable housing options

In rural areas of Grand, Emery and Toole counties in Utah, affordable housing is largely unavailable to residents who work in low-paying jobs. Increasing rents and a shortage of housing stock mean too many families spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. In 2014, state and local housing officials estimated that Utah needed 44,000 units of housing to meet demands, and with new industry emerging in the area, the need for workforce housing will only continue to grow. However housing agencies lack the organizational capacity to build affordable units, which only adds to the pressure.

RCAC created the Utah Capacity Building Collaborative to provide capacity building, operational support and development training to rural Utah housing agencies to increase affordable housing options. The four Collaborative partners are: Community Rebuilds and Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah in Moab; Goshute Housing Authority in Ibapah, and Epicenter in Green River. The Collaborative is in its first year.

Collaborative partners’ proposed projects include Epicenter’s single family rental project called Frontier House, which is a prototype for a small energy efficient design appropriate to replace dilapidated trailers in Green River. Construction was completed in December, 2016 and is awaiting power installation. Epicenter also secured funding to continue predevelopment activities for a multi-family rental project in Green River.

The Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah proposes to expand its capacity and submit a Low Income Housing Tax Credit application for a multi-family project desperately needed in Moab.

The Goshute Housing Authority, recognized as a “Strikeforce Zone” by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, plans to increase rental options for tribal members in Wendover.

Community Rebuilds is initiating a partnership with a private landowner to construct straw bale, energy-efficient rental units in Moab. The organization recently completed a design team meeting including city officials and building professionals.

The cohort agencies within the Utah Capacity Building Collaborative are building a model which can be replicated in rural areas throughout the west. Building capacity of local agencies leads to sustainable communities where low income families thrive, small businesses grow and the impacts are rever­berated throughout generations.