The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

2017 Fall Charrette: Home-Affordable Housing in Utah

The College of Architecture + Planning community is beginning the academic year with a “charrette” – a short but high- intensity project for starting the semester involving teams of students from the College. We will be challenging student teams to develop a poster associated with the topic of affordable housing which will be reviewed by a team of expert jurors.

The charrette will officially begin Monday August 21, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. at the UMFA auditorium with a Keynote Lecture from Tara Rollings, Executive Director of the Utah Housing Coalition.

Tara Rollins joined the Utah Housing Coalition as their first full time Executive Director in 2005. Tara has been committed to the Coalition for years sitting on their volunteer Executive Committee as Treasurer. Tara moved from New Hampshire with her husband 22 years ago to ski the powder of Utah. She worked at ASSIST Inc. a Community Design Center for 10 years helping low income homeowners with emergency home repairs. Tara has sat on many boards throughout the community and continues her commitment to housing choices for all.


Topic Background

The need for housing that is affordable to low income households has been steadily growing over the past several decades. The recession of 2007-2009 devastated housing markets across the United States. After continued growth, the rate of home ownership in Salt Lake County has declined from year 2000-2015 by 4% and continues to fall. Factors that have contributed to the increased affordable housing demand in the last decade include: demographic changes, changes in household income and the lack of affordable housing production. The increasing number of refugee and immigrant households over the last three decades accounts for a major share in the demand for rental housing. Demand for rental housing is also increasing as baby-boomers approach retirement and enter the affordable rental market; households aged 45-64 make up one-third of the growth in renters nationally.

Households unable to afford rents face an increasing risk of homelessness. Families make up about 40% of the national homeless population. It is estimated that about 25% of families that were homeless once will become homeless again in the near future. One out 10 people facing homelessness rely on family and friends for shelter; 1 out of 10 veterans become homeless; 1 out of 11 formerly incarcerated are homeless; and 1 out of 6 people leaving foster care is without a home. The odds of experiencing homelessness for the general population in the course of a year are about 1 out of 200. But for those below the poverty line, 1 out of 25 households are homeless.

Homelessness is a systemic problem, linked to other personal concerns for the homeless such as adequate education, employment, mental and physical health. Further, homelessness is also related to other social and community concerns such as public safety, tax burden, healthcare costs, and property values. Americans agree that homelessness is a problem that society can aid in solving, however the methods to do so are not unilaterally agreed upon. Utah has progressively initiated a program to house the homeless as a more effective means of support than other public services. Recently, Mayor McAdams of Salt Lake County announced plans for 3 homeless shelters to be built across the Salt Lake Valley to service in need populations in our communities. However, residents in the neighborhoods where these shelters are being planned, have publicly voiced concerns about the adverse affects a homeless shelter may have on their property values and safety. Some have been especially concerned that there has not been more public dialogue about the community concerns with residents and municipal leaders.

Given the pressing need for affordable housing in Utah and the recent public engagement around the question of homeless housing, this year’s College of Architecture + Planning charrette focuses on housing affordability.

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Schedule and Strategies

Download the entire 2017 Charrette information packet for submission guidelines, deadlines, and schedule.

Poster Submissions