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PM News Brief: Encircle expansion, troubling Uintah audit & unaffordable housing market

A photo of a sign outside Encircle.
Lexi Peery
/
KUER
The LGBTQ resource organization Encircle announced Wednesday it has raised $8 million to build eight new locations. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Oct. 13, 2021

State

Encircle expanding in Utah and to neighboring states 

The LGBTQ resource organization Encircle announced Wednesday it has raised $8 million to build eight new locations — three in Utah and five spread between Arizona, Idaho and Nevada. The non-profit currently has four homes — all in Utah. It offers services like therapy, art workshops and friendship circles. Both Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith and Gov. Spencer Cox commended the announcement. Cox said in a press release many queer youth in the state face higher rates of depression, anxiety and social isolation. He said he’s “proud to support Encircle as it serves thousands of Utah’s most vulnerable youth.” — Ross Terrell

Utahns being priced out of housing market

More than half of Utah households can’t afford to buy a median priced home in 2021. That’s according to a new report released Wednesday by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. The study looked at the current housing situation in the state and confirmed Utah is experiencing a housing shortage. It also showed things are worse for renters as nearly 73% of them were priced out of the housing market last year. The housing market is expected to stay competitive through at least next year. According to the institute, housing demand could stay high for the rest of the decade. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Finding shelter for homeless people as cold weather moves in

As cold temperatures creep into the Salt Lake Valley, service providers and government officials are struggling to find emergency shelter space for homeless people. Laurie Hopkins with the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness said there are plans in place to provide around 200 winter overflow beds, but they’re still looking for about 250 on top of that. Hopkins said it’s difficult to find a place to put shelters because some communities believe it would be a “difficult population” to support. The St. Vincent de Paul dining hall in downtown Salt Lake is on track to open as an overflow shelter next Monday. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Utah state auditor troubled by financial situation in Uintah County 

Utah’s state auditor said he is “deeply troubled by the severity of financial impairment” in Uintah County. An audit released Wednesday found the county government’s lack of effective financial control and misuse of federal funds. The investigation was sparked by a whistleblower tip. The state auditor said the county should take immediate action to “significantly improve” their processes and procedures. State officials said county management has refused to take responsibility for the findings. — Lexi Peery

Region/Nation

New maps show pandemic’s impact in native communities

This week, new data and maps were launched showing the pandemic’s impact across American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The project evolved from groundbreaking data journalism at Indian Country Today. Underfunded health systems have left Indigenous people especially vulnerable to the virus. Despite health inequities, American Indian and Alaska Native people have the highest vaccination rates in the country. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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