Nonprofit seeks to add more affordable housing near downtown

Conceptual rendering of the proposed second phase in the First Step House campus. The two-story office building pictured on the right is the site of the project’s proposed third phase. The completed first phase building is pictured to the left.  Image courtesy First Step House.

As it is was in 2017, affordable housing will continue to be a top concern for Salt Lake City leaders this year.  In just their second 2018 council work session, the Salt Lake City Council will consider a housing loan for a proposed affordable housing development that would serve extremely low-income residents.

On Tuesday, council and Housing and Neighborhood Development staff will brief the council on a Housing Trust Fund loan request from First Step House, a nonprofit that focuses on mental health, recovery treatment and housing for veterans and low-income individuals.   First Step House is requesting a loan of $402,250 for land acquisition of a two-story vacant commercial structure directly north of their facility that treats and houses veterans on the 400 south block of 500 East.

The nonprofit plans redevelop the 0.2-acre site into a 40-unit affordable housing project.  The units would be reserved for residents earning less than 30 percent the Area Median Income (AMI).  The project would be the third phase of the First Step’s 500 East campus that when built out will add 115 affordable units to the market.

The first phase opened in 2016 when the organization converted a vacant one-story office building into a 50-bed residential treatment center with 32 treatment beds and 18 transitional housing beds.

Construction of the campus’ second phase should start at the end of the year and will replace the surface parking lot directly north of the project’s first phase. The second phase will consist of a five-story building that will be a mix of affordable housing and supportive services.  The project will include 75 permanent housing units that will be reserved for residents earning at or below 30 percent AMI ($15,850 for a one-person household).  The first two floors will consist of structured parking and 12,000 square feet of clinical outpatient space.  The project will front both 500 East and Denver Street.

First Step was rewarded several state and federal tax credit but the nonprofit is still securing additional financing sources to fund the $15 million project.  Officials expect to start construction of the second phase in December.  If the city council approves the land acquisition loan, officials hope to start construction on the third phase in April 2019.

Conceptual rendering of the north facade of the proposed second phase in the First Step House campus. Image courtesy First Step House.
Floor plan for the proposed second phase in the First Step House campus. Image courtesy First Step House.
The completed first phase of the First Step House campus as seen from 500 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at