Area residents can have a say in addressing what Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis calls a "housing crisis" in Utah's capital city at a town meeting Jan. 11.

The town meeting is a prelude to the Salt Lake City Housing Conference, a seminar to be held Jan. 25 to address local housing issues ranging from all-too-frequent housing demolitions to substandard housing."The purpose of the town meeting is to gather input from various community groups to help us better facilitate the conference and at the same time give us more information on putting together a workable housing policy," said Lynn Zimmerman, spokeswoman for DePaulis.

"This is the one opportunity to present their views with respect to housing that could influence housing policy as it's constructed by the city," Zimmerman said.

"Salt Lake City is facing a housing crisis. The problems are many," DePaulis said, pointing to demolition of valuable housing stock and the need for transitional housing to help homeless people back into mainstream society.

A housing study conducted by the city for the the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last year found that 15.6 percent of the city's 73,700 owner-occupied and rented dwellings fall below HUD housing standards.

Additionally, former Salt Lake residents embarking on a "suburban flight" to areas outside the city are leaving empty homes to deteriorate, she said.

The housing conference, with its theme of "creating a decent place to live," will help residents become aware of housing assistance plans available from the city and the federal government, Zimmerman said.

The Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency offers loans to residents needing to rehabilitate their homes, and many other housing assistance plans are available through the Salt Lake City Housing Authority, she said.

The town meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan 11 in the Salt Lake City Main Library.