2020 Social Support Systems Committee Report

 Introduction and Summary of Major Positions

Today, 300,000 people in Utah cannot afford a decent place to live. Tens of thousands of Utah children arrive at kindergarten without the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in school. The current pandemic will surely add to these numbers. Investment in affordable housing and early childhood care and education programs would save Utah taxpayers millions now spent on social services and criminal justice to deal with the consequences of these deprivations. At the same time, a higher number of well-qualified workers paying taxes would support state economic development. Coping with the increased needs of those who have lost jobs and income due to the pandemic and giving special aid to the victims of systemic racism will require federal help. Meanwhile, important policies can and should be adopted at the state level to make progress on these issues. In the pages that follow we document the human needs that substantiate these recommendations for state action:

Overcoming the Impact of Childhood Poverty.

  • Fund a pilot program developed at the University of Utah to increase the number of low-income families claiming the federal EITC and Child Tax Credits, and quickly implement it if successful.
  • Establish a State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) at 10% of the federal level.
  • Increase the minimum wage to at least $15/hour over four years, to help reduce the number of children living below the poverty level.
  • Provide staff and funding for the Governor’s Early Childhood Commission and the Early Childhood Utah Advisory Council, to allow implementation of the Strategic Plan which was developed based on the 2019 Needs Assessment.
  • Fund the proposals in the 2019 Needs Assessment to expand the early childhood education and care programs that mitigate the negative effects of poverty on children.

Increasing Affordable Housing.

  • Analyze the housing status for different racial and ethnic groups in the 2020 State of Utah Affordable Housing Report.
  • Subsidize the construction and preservation of more units of affordable housing through state bonding.
  • Modify state and local statutes, zoning regulations, and residential design standards that inhibit affordable housing.
  • Compile and publicize political subdivisions’ compliance with the 2019 requirement in SB34 to do more to facilitate moderate-income housing. We need to determine the extent to which communities outside Salt Lake City have increased affordable housing.
To access a pdf version of the full report click here: Social Support Systems

Article 6 (Social Support Systems) Committee Members

               Louise Knauer

               Susan Olson

               Cheryll May

               Stew Olsen