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Former Park City Councilor honored for affordable housing work

Tim Henney (2nd from right) was honored with the Bob Wells Award for his work to create affordable housing in Park City and Summit County
KPCW Carolyn Murray
Tim Henney (holding award) was honored with the Bob Wells Award Tuesday for his work to create affordable housing in Park City and Summit County.

Mountainlands Community Housing Trust named Tim Henney as its 2022 recipient of the Bob Wells Award Tuesday.

Former Mountainlands Executive Director Scott Loomis announced the award naming former Park City councilman Tim Henney as this year’s recipient.

“But Tim, I think in the seven years [as a city council liaison], not only was he an active member of the board and an advocate in the community, but I think he probably more than anybody that I'm aware of articulated the need for affordable housing,” Loomis said.

Henney has lived in Park City for three decades, serving on the Park City Council from 2013 until 2021. In addition to being a vocal advocate and initiating multiple city affordable housing efforts, Henney was the city council liaison to the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust for seven years.

Henney said with the median house price now over $3 million, the Park City community is limited to attracting only affluent people. He believes the housing trust's work and bold action by city and county leaders can offer options for middle-class and working people.

"I don't believe that at any [housing] price point, there should be no option," he said. "I would hate to see Park City become a monoculture of only very affluent people living here. I think that would be catastrophic.”

Henney said some people oppose all development, but the rights of property owners make defending that position untenable. Additionally, he said the data show affordable housing is not detrimental to property values and increases a sense of community in economic and social ways.

A current effort to build about 15 affordable units in lower Pinebrook has received pushback from some who argue the project is inappropriate, will cause traffic issues, and impact property values in the neighborhood.

“But you have to understand what they're actually against," Henney said. "If it really is against renters in their neighborhood, I would want to understand what's at the root cause of that. I don't agree with those sorts of arguments even aside from property values, but from a philosophical position, from a diversity, equity, and inclusion perspective, and from a systemic racism perspective.”

Henney said elected leaders must have the political will and be willing to act to address the problem. He believes citizens have a role by showing up at meetings and talking to their elected officials.

“That if people are opposed to affordable housing because they don't want it in their neighborhood, that's not a legitimate reason. That is not a reason to not build affordable housing.”

Henney, who lives in affordable housing with his partner, said he has no plans to run for future office but will continue to fight for housing, equity, and inclusion in Park City and Summit County.

The Bob Wells award was established 20 years ago in honor of the award’s namesake. In the 1990s, Wells played a founding role in creating the housing trust. Wells recognized and advocated for creating affordable housing in Park City’s early days as an up-and-coming destination resort mountain town.

He was the first award recipient for his work in establishing the housing trust. The organization is dedicated to creating affordable housing, seeing it integral to the prosperity and cohesion of a community.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.