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Millcreek Journal

New after-school program hopes to change the course of children’s lives

Sep 04, 2022 10:29AM ● By Sara Milano

By Sara Milano | [email protected]

The Millcreek City Council approved a $22,000 grant to support an after-school program for residents of the Holladay Hills apartment complex at their Aug. 8 meeting. The grant money will be given to the Asian Association of Utah with the intention of establishing a program for children living in the apartment complex to “augment their education and keep them out of trouble,” said Mayor Jeff Silvestrini.

The Holladay Hills apartment complex is an affordable housing project in Millcreek at 3690 S. Highland Drive. The apartments provide a low-cost alternative for many families who are experiencing housing insecurity and are the recipients of Section 8 housing vouchers administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Online reviews of the Holladay Hills complex reflect issues that affect children living in the apartments, with one saying, “the kid’s playground is broken, the buildings are shifting and falling apart.” The mayor explained that the apartments have been the subject of “innumerable police calls for shootings, stabbings, [and] drug use” in the area. He identified “a number of unattended kids in this community that really would benefit from…an after-school program that will enable them to be competitive with their peers…and escape an intergenerational poverty cycle.”

The grant money reflects Millcreek’s latest attempt to invest in low-income housing and programming for residents. Like many cities in the valley, Millcreek is experiencing a high rate of population growth. With this growth often comes a shortage of affordable rentals for longtime and new residents alike. These challenges are further compounded for immigrants who may not speak English as a first language or who have families abroad that they support financially.

The $22,000 grant will not cost Millcreek taxpayers any money as the funds are derived from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, better known as the COVID-19 stimulus package. The initial investment will establish the program with the Asian Association of Utah in the hopes the city can later procure grant money to keep funding it should they deem it a success.

The organization has run their own after-school program out of their 3900 South location for a number of years now, but this grant will fund a new program out of a state office building that is directly south of the Holladay Hills apartments.

The Asian Association of Utah serves refugees and immigrants and supports their “transition to life in the United States.” While the Asian population in Millcreek hovers around 4.5%, the association serves a broad group of immigrants, with the most common countries of origin being Somalia, Iraq, Myanmar and Uganda. The organization was founded in 1977 as a way to support refugees from Vietnam, Japan, China, Cambodia and Korea who had been resettled in the United States but lacked community support and resources.

Councilmember Bev Uipi reflected on her own positive experience with the organization growing up, saying, “When I was a kid my dad used to translate for them because they also assisted in helping Pacific Islanders who were just migrating in at the time” and praised the association for providing resources that “can really change the trajectory of a child’s life.”