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The City Journals

Struggling in South Jordan? Help is available

Mar 15, 2021 02:05PM ● By Mariden Williams

By Mariden Williams | [email protected]

These times are financially difficult for many people. If you're struggling in South Jordan, there is help available, thanks to the city's CDBG funds. The city partners with several aid organizations, which are listed below. Residents who need assistance should contact these organizations directly.

  • Utah Community Action, which provides emergency rental assistance and food  (www.utahca.org)
  • South Valley Services, which provides shelter and other services to those experiencing dating and domestic violence (https://svsutah.org/)
  • The Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake, which provides legal assistance to those experiencing domestic violence (https://www.legalaidsocietyofsaltlake.org/)
  • Assist Utah, which helps low-to-moderate-income residents and seniors pay for critical home repairs and accessibility modifications (https://assistutah.org/)
  • The Road Home and INN Between, which both provide shelter and medical care to those experiencing homelessness, including those needing medical care (https://www.theroadhome.org/)
  • Suncrest Counseling, which is providing free therapy sessions to those affected by COVID (https://www.suncrestcounseling.com)
  • Community Development Corporation of Utah, which provides mortgage payment assistance and financial counseling, (https://cdcutah.org)

"All aid is given through the partnered organizations,” said South Jordan's CDGB coordinator, Katie Olson. “Residents go to them for help, and we reimburse the organization, using CDBG, for the aid they give." 

The Community Development Block Grant program is a federal grant program provided by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Every year, it provides a certain amount of money to cities and states, to be used for various community improvement purposesincluding providing aid to low and moderate-income residents. The amount of money HUD provides to a city each year depends upon the number of needy persons living within its bounds. 

"Since our city is more affluent, we have one of the lowest allocations in the area,” Olson said. “Our $220,000 doesn’t go very far in terms of construction, but we do our best to make sure it’s serving as many people as it can." 

Who qualifies for aid? To qualify, you have to be of low-to-moderate income level (LMI), which means your household must make 80% or less of the Salt Lake metropolitan area's median income. For a household of four, the LMI cutoff is currently $70,300 a year. See the included chart to see that number adjusted for households of different sizes.

Some people also always qualify for aid regardless of their actual income level: seniors over the age of 65, anybody experiencing domestic violence or homelessness, persons living with AIDS, severely disabled adults and migrant farm workers are all considered LMI by default.

The city's CDBG grant can be used for buying property, building relocation and demolition, rehabilitating and improving residential and non-residential structures, constructing public facilities and improvements, (such as water and sewer facilities, streets, neighborhood centers), making buildings more environmentally friendly, assisting small businesses and public servicesthough the amount of money the city can devote to public services is very limited.

"By law, public services are limited to 15% of our grant,” Olson said. “These are the types of resident services you see listed on the website, like rental assistance, food banks, health services. The bulk of the grant needs to be used for hard-cost types of projects." 

South Jordan always has enough public service providers to allocate all of its funds to, but there have been a few cases where so few South Jordan residents applied to use those services, that at the end of the year there was still money left over. In these cases, those funds are either reallocated, or the deadline for using them is extended. 

"We have a fairly affluent population, so it takes some work to connect those who qualify based on income with the aid available," Olson said. "Typically though, we have construction projects that come in under budget—a few in the past needed to be canceled for one reason or another. It’s a big process [with HUD] to reassign funds, so we typically wait until the next year’s plan to reassign any leftover funds."

This year, city officials dedicated about $52,000 of CDGB funds leftover from previous years to building Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant wheelchair ramps in various locations around the city. 

"Our funding isn’t large enough to do affordable housing construction projects, like it would be in other cities, hence our focus on area improvements," Olson said.

Predictably, much more of South Jordan's public service money got used in 2020 than in previous years. In past years, Utah Community Actionthe city's partnered rental assistance organizationhelped about 30 South Jordan residents in a year. More recently, they've been helping 30 South Jordan residents every three months. South Valley Services' domestic violence shelter also saw a 25% increase in South Jordan residents over the last year.

Fortunately, South Jordan received $268,363 in federal COVID Cares funding, which has covered the dramatic increase in public service use. Of that, $110,684 went to small business support payroll grants, which were divided among nine local businesses to pay LMI workers; $54,508 was allocated to rent assistance for LMI households; $20,000 went to the domestic violence shelter; and $15,871 went to the food bank to provide additional staff to meet the hugely increased demand. The remaining money was used for providing legal aid to domestic violence victims, therapy sessions for LMI residents and paying the employees who administered the aid program.

The city creates a new Annual CDBG Action Plan each spring, which residents are encouraged to review and comment on. Each meeting is announced in advance in the city's monthly newsletter.

“Primarily, residents should know there are services available for those who qualify,” Olson said. “The list of providers on [the city website] is the most accurate listing and place to get info. If you need help, please call the providers to see if you qualify. We want to be sure no one in need goes without the helps that are available.”