As Utah and the rest of the nation comes out of recession, many Utahns are still without the jobs and homes they once had. One lawmaker is running a bill attempting to encourage employers to hire those who have been down on their luck.
HB 274, Tax Credits for Employing a Homeless Person, from Representative Brian King (Democrat, SLC), puts in place a series of increasing tax credits for companies who continuously employ the homeless.
“I want to help people who have gone through difficult periods in their lives,” says Representative King. “The recession put a lot of people out of work who wouldn’t normally have a problem finding a job. The need is great, and my hope is that with this tool – businesses, non-profits and agencies like the Department of Workforce Services can come together to help people make ends meet, while benefiting themselves as well.”
HB 274 offers companies who hire the homeless an increasing tax credit the longer a homeless person is employed. The increments start at $500, and work their way up to a maximum of $2000 per year depending on how long the person has continuously worked for the company, and how many hours a month they work.
The law also specifies that it only applies to people who are living in private or publicly funded temporary housing or transitional facilities. It does not apply to those who are sleeping on the street.
“Unfortunately, it’s just not possible to provide these types of credits for someone living under a viaduct, ” says King. “According to both state and federal laws, a company cannot hire someone who doesn’t have an address.”
King says that for those who are sleeping on the streets, a job is secondary to finding shelter, and hopes that sufficient effort can be made in other areas to get them into temporary housing so they can then begin getting into jobs.
“The more people we can get back to work the better it is for our economy. I think this is a win-win for the business community and of course the folks who are transitioning from being homeless back into the workforce.”
Representative King ran nearly identical legislation in the 2012 session, and successfully passed it through the House of Representatives, but the bill died in the Senate Rules Committee before the end of the session.
King says this year he feels the bill will have a better chance because he has rallied more support around it, and given it stronger implications (the maximum tax credit available has been increased from $1000 to $2000). He also says that unlike last year, the Department of Workforce Services is aware of the legislation this time around, and he thinks they will put their support behind it.
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Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill