The Utah Housing Preservation Fund announced its first preservation of deeply affordable housing with the acquisition of 46 units of from Housing Connect, Salt Lake County’s housing authority. The units otherwise would have been sold on the market necessitating the relocation of residents.

This initial acquisition will not only preserve this affordable housing for existing residents, but also allow Housing Connect to reinvest the proceeds of the purchase to further stabilize their public housing portfolio and generate more than 100 additional units serving households earning 30% of the area median income or below. The transaction was facilitated by lending partner Zions Bank, social-impact funds from Intermountain Healthcare and philanthropic support from the Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation.

“Preserving our most affordable housing has never been more critical than during this time. We’re extremely appreciative of a great partner like Housing Connect who shares our vision for preserving affordable housing,” said Marion Willey, executive director of Utah Nonprofit Housing Corporation which houses the Utah Housing Preservation Fund. “This next two-year period will give our community significant opportunities to purchase and rehab affordable housing to set aside for the most vulnerable in our community.

The Preservation Fund, which launched on March 2, 2020, plans to preserve 500-800 units through an eventual $100 million effort of largely philanthropic donations, social impact investments and community focused bank financing. Additionally, public partners are finding creative ways to support private sector funding, including the Utah Legislature’s historic commitment earlier this year to support the effort with a $5 million appropriation as part of S.B. 39, Affordable Housing Amendments which passed during the 2020 General Legislative Session.

Such collaborations between public and private partners are essential to address the housing crisis in Utah. The Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation has identified over 1,675 publicly supported rental homes in Utah with affordability restrictions expiring in the next five years. Preserving the affordability of these homes is more important than ever as Utah comes together to address the human and economic impacts of COVID-19.

“Preserving safe, decent affordable housing is core to Housing Connect’s mission. We are delighted to find a local partner in the Utah Housing Preservation Fund that could help us preserve this critical housing, while still meeting federal guidelines, securing our existing housing stock and significantly  increasing our overall housing inventory,” said Janice Kimball, chief executive officer of Housing Connect.

Units acquired through the Preservation Fund will be managed by the Utah Nonprofit Housing Corporation, which also works with housing authorities, service providers, and other organizations statewide to secure stable and healthy housing for those most at risk for or experiencing homelessness. The 54 units represent a strategic initial acquisition for the fund to specifically help meet the unique housing needs of vulnerable individuals and families at risk for or experiencing homelessness. Already a priority issue for Utah, helping this vulnerable population during the COVID-19 pandemic in sustainable ways is more critical than ever.

The unique model of the Utah Housing Preservation Fund also brings a greater focus on serving the residents that call these units home. Targeted home renovations will be completed on properties purchased by the Preservation Fund to ensure that residents have healthy and safe living situations. Additionally, residents will have the opportunity to participate in a voluntary survey designed to identify healthcare needs and encourage healthy behaviors. Partners are also identifying new ways to help residents in all units acquired by the Fund to stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.