SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall outlined her recommendations for the American Rescue Plan in Utah’s capital city on Monday.
Among the biggest issues discussed were childcare, more affordable housing, and efforts to keep Salt Lake City’s parks safer with the creation of a public lands park ranger program.
In total, there are six proposals Mayor Mendenhall laid out for use of over $85 million in stimulus funding.
“I’m happy to announce that my first funding recommendation for the Rescue Plans Fund is a major investment in childcare, early childhood education, and workforce training to increase the skills and earning potential of parents,” said Mendenhall during a press conference inside the Horizonte Instruction and Training Center in Salt Lake City.
Mendenhall aims to use the funds toward expanding pre-kindergarten programs, home visits from nurses, and a targeted workforce program for parents. Other major areas of spending include tackling homelessness and addressing Utah’s growing population paired with the lack of accessible housing in what experts say is an already overpriced city.
Mendenhall says, “Through the pandemic, we’ve seen availability and affordability shrink even more, widening the gap for equitable access to fundamental needs for housing.”
The mayor knows how vital safety is in Salt Lake City parks. Mendenhall is proposing a portion of the funds will go towards introducing a park ranger program in the city’s outdoor recreation areas.
“They’ll be trained in first aid and have a direct line to police and fire departments for urgent needs and issues,” says Mendenhall.
She echoes the sentiment that Salt Lake City’s homeless crisis has reached a critical point. Mendenhall says a $2.9 million funding of what she calls a “new rapid interview team” would provide outreach and resources to keep those without shelter off the cold streets.
A hopeful Mendenhall says the proposals are still being voted on, but the goal is to have leveraged funds for the first phase of the stimulus money in the next year, pending the council’s approval.