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WOULD S.L. OLYMPICS CAUSE HOUSING SHORTAGE FOR POOR?

The possibility of a housing shortage for the poor and university students during a 2002 Winter Games was raised by the Salt Lake Ministerial Association during a debate over the city's Olympic bid.

"Students feel like landlords will go after the money," kicking them out for higher-paying tenants, Jean McCreery, the Lutheran campus pastor at the University of Utah, said during the noontime debate Wednesday.Because the U. is the proposed site for housing athletes during the two-week Games, McCreery said promoters and others involved in the "hubbub that surrounds an Olympics" will create a demand for nearby apartments.

That demand would also affect low-income residents in the downtown area, many of whom already have difficultly finding and keeping an affordable apartment as housing costs continue to rise.

The Rev. Ron Thomas of Crossroads Urban Center said in his experience, landlords are all too willing to force lower income tenants out in favor of those willing to pay higher rents.

Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee Chairman Jim Jardine tried to reassure the dozen ministers gathered at the Joseph Smith Building for the debate that "landlords are not going to give up a year's lease for one month's benefit."

Housing is already a problem for Atlanta, which will host the 1996 Summer Games. Hotel rooms have long been booked, leaving travelers to consider renting motor homes or even private residences.

Jardine also said the Olympics would be accessible to the poor. Tickets to some events, he said, would cost as little as $20 and the nightly medal ceremonies downtown would be free.

"We want everyone in Utah to be able to experience the Olympics," he said.

But he said that although there are people in the community "who want to make the Olympics a vehicle to solve those problems, the Olympics can't solve the low-income problem."

Several times during the hour-long debate with anti-Olympic organizer Marc Allred, Jardine quoted former President John F. Kennedy: "A rising tide raises all boats," suggesting everyone would benefit in some way from the Games.

The site of the 2002 Winter Games will be selected in June.