SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall gave her 2022 State of the City address Tuesday evening and talked heavily about public safety, the pandemic, homelessness, cost of living, and more.
The Mayor addressed the rising cost of living that is affecting residents throughout the state.
“I know some residents wish the city could impose a ceiling on rental rates, but state law forbids cities from enacting any kind of rent control. I agree that the $7.25 minimum wage in Utah is embarrassingly, abysmally — inhumanely — low, but state law forbids cities from setting a living wage,” Mayor Mendenhall said.
As a solution, she says the city has invested in more affordable units of housing in the last year than “ever before.” The mayor also says the city has more deed-restricted units in place that will ensure affordability lasts.
She says six affordable housing projects were completed last year totaling 345 new affordable units. She says 735 more affordable units will be completed in the coming years.
On the topic of homelessness, the Mayor said a solution is in reach. She called on leaders of cities and towns around the state and on Capitol Hill to increase the state’s investment in it’s homelessness and housing crisis.
“Not a day goes by in this job that I don’t think about the unsheltered members of our community, their needs, and what Salt Lake City should be doing to assist. But if we are going to have a real shot at solving this issue — and let’s be clear, with our homeless population numbers, a solution is within reach — we need every elected leader in our state to ask themselves those same questions, and to be a partner in creating change. Because it’s going to take more than just a few cities to really make that progress, and that’s just not what’s happening right now.”
The mayor expressed how her administration has worked hard in Salt Lake City’s fight to improve air quality. She pointed to the 2,000 trees that have been planted which will grow to generate half a million pounds of new oxygen and take 20,000 pounds of pollution out of the air each year.
When it came to public safety, the mayor says by the end of 2021, there was an overall 6% decrease in overall crime.
“My goal is for Salt Lake City to lead the state in public safety. That means ensuring that not only does the police department have the resources it needs, but that a community-based approach is at the core of our strategy. I’m proud of the progress we’re making. I’m proud of our officers who show up every day to keep our city safe, and I’m proud of the direction we’re going — the community-based approach we’re taking — as we make the city safer for everyone.”
With the pandemic still not winding down, the Mayor says the government is “shifting from looking at COVID as an acute crisis to treating it as a chronic condition.”
With no end in sight, the city government is running out of ways to slow the spread of the virus and the mayor credits personal responsibility as a force that can help bring the pandemic to an end.
To watch Mayor Mendenhall’s full State of the City address, click the video at the top of this story.