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Becker Touts Housing Initiative As New Veterans Center Nears Completion

Whittney Evans
The new First Step House Recovery Campus will add 50 treatment beds and housing for low-income veterans.

A new treatment and housing facility for veterans is nearing completion in downtown Salt Lake City. City officials highlighted the project on Monday as an example of the progress being made on Mayor Ralph Becker’s 5,000 Doors campaign.

The First Step House Recovery Campus will create 50 new treatment and housing beds for veterans recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and drug addiction.  Salt Lake City provided a $700,000 loan to kick start the project.

Shawn McMillen is Executive Director of First Step House.

“Phase 1 of the First Step House Recovery Campus aims, as does the 5000 doors initiative to address specific neighborhood needs while creating affordable housing options for low-income individuals returning to the workforce and the community,” McMillen says.

Salt Lake City officials launched the 5,000 doors initiative in January, but work began in earnest in July 2014. It’s a 5-year-plan to create new affordable housing options and provide assistance to homeowners and renters.  The city commissioned a housing study in 2013 that identified a need for about 8,000 housing units for low-income renters. Mayor Ralph Becker says the initiative is working.

“Five-Thousand-Doors in a short 12 months has totaled nearly 1,000 units that preserve households at risk for homelessness, give households an opportunity to own a home and lastly created more capacity in our city for our working households,” Becker says.

Jackie Biskupski is running against Becker for mayor. She calls the 5,000 Doors initiative quote “too little, too late,” and says the plan doesn’t create enough units to fill the existing need. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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