At Crossroads Urban Center in Salt Lake City, Utah for the past 14 years, Linda Hilton has served in a dual position. Her two posts include Director of Community Outreach and Director of Coalition of Religious Communities (CORC), a statewide interfaith social justice advocacy group with members from 17 diverse faiths founded to lift the state’s sales tax on groceries. Through Hilton’s efforts, CORC has helped to repeal more than half of the state sales tax on food, which hit those with the lowest incomes the hardest, and continues to push for complete repeal. Through this coalition, Hilton has led efforts to provide food to the hungry and advocated for better access to health care for the poor.
In 1999, CORC launched a campaign to regulate the booming payday loan industry, which operated in Utah with few restrictions or accountability. Hilton blew the whistle on a Utah-based credit union that was making payday-type loans, leading to an investigation by the national trade press; the loan program was ultimately discontinued. Hilton also co-authored a manual on local zoning and ordinances to curb payday lending.
Hilton’s advocacy includes working for funding of critical needs for low-income and homeless residents of Utah, fairer tax rates for low-income citizens, and to reverse a Utah law prohibiting cities and towns in the state from enacting “living wage” requirements. She speaks frequently to community and religious groups about the struggles of low-income and homeless families; she trains students and members of faith communities to advocate for low-income citizens; and she conducts community workshops on the need for increased wages for the working poor.
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Hilton is the recipient of a number of local awards, including the Church Women United, United Nations Office, Human Rights Award for social activism in Utah. Hilton is passionate about volunteerism and social justice, and has made an impressive career out of advocating for those who cannot speak for themselves. She embodies perfectly the spirit of the namesake of this award, NCL’s leader, Florence Kelley, who, like Hilton, tirelessly championed the rights of the working poor and forced policymakers to address their needs for better wages, working conditions, housing, and health care.