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Two of the Salt Lake County Housing Authority's programs recently won national awards for helping needy citizens get back on their feet.

The awards were presented at a May 17 ceremony in Washington, D.C., by Michael B. Janis, the general deputy assistant secretary for Public and Indian Housing.The programs were awarded the Specific Activity Award, which is given to housing authorities in recognition of developing outstanding programs, said Douglas Tapking, executive director of Salt Lake County Housing Authority.

The award was given to only 17 recipients throughout the country. The Salt Lake County Housing Authority was recognized for the Entrepreneurship for Single Parents program and Unibase, a home computer program.

Under the entrepreneurship program, housing authorities and the U.S. Small Business Administration help people who want to go into business for themselves, Tapking said.

The program aims to help entrepreneurs be financially successful through educational, economic and personal goals.

The educational facet helps people develop confidence and competence in their ability to create a small business. The economic goal is to create new jobs through untapped resources and opportunities, while the personal goal is to foster a sense of empowerment to be a successful and productive community member.

"The ultimate idea is the person involved would start a business and be successful," Tapking said.

On the other hand, Unibase provides home-based training for housing residents. The authority places computers in participants' homes to do data processing, he said.

Only people who qualify for government-subsidized housing are eligible for the programs.

Tapking said the entrepreneurial has completed its first 20-week training session. About 120 people applied for the program, with 21 completing the course. He said having that many graduates was "fantastic because they actually had ideas about what businesses to start and how to start them."

He said the authority is reviewing the session and may start a new one in six months. The housing authority is currently working with banks to establish a funding program to help graduates start their businesses.

Unibase, an ongoing program, often includes as many as 14 employees or as few as six. People are trained as they sign up, and the number of employees is based on the workload.