Construction began Tuesday on affordable housing for refugees, the homeless and low-income Utahns in East Millcreek, fulfilling a long-held community goal of providing more living space for newcomers.
Nearly one-third of the 136 units at Bud Bailey Apartments will be designated for refugees. They will likely inhabit many of the larger apartments, which are often difficult to find in the Salt Lake Valley.
"It's not only the right thing to do, it's lifesaving and life-rebuilding," said Patrick Poulin, resettlement director of the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City, one of several organizations that help refugees transition to Utah.
But the complex, slated to be completed by the end of 2012, will also include 10 apartments for homeless youth and five apartments for homeless families. The rest of the approximately 207,000-square-foot green complex, which will draw a large amount of its power from solar panels, will be available for any low-income population. Phase 1 of the project, 59 units and a community center, will be completed by Dec. 31, 2011.
Funding for the $23 million complex will come from federal stimulus dollars, low-income tax credits and Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund money.
Housing officials celebrated the groundbreaking Tuesday by discussing the life of Bud Bailey, a housing advocate and philanthropist who recently died at 76.
Bailey led a successful construction company for many decades, with projects in Utah and across the country. He also was chairman of the Salt Lake County Housing Authority board of commissioners and helped with homeless housing projects in the past several years.
"Without Bud's vision, we would not be where we are today," said Pamela Atkinson, the homeless advocate who ran Tuesday's celebration. "I think Bud is here in spirit."
Mickey Gallivan spoke about the effort to end chronic homelessness in Utah and the Crusade for the Homeless Foundation, which encourages Utahns to donate 1 percent of their annual income one time for the cause. "Dream-doers are the best kind of people in our community," he said of Bailey.
Bailey's wife, Judy, spoke briefly before shovels hit the ground.
"He would be thrilled to death to have his name on this project," she told the crowd. "I will love driving by and seeing it."
How to help
Want to help end homelessness in Utah? Visit http://www.crusadeforthehomeless.org.