by Molly Robinson

This question is the number one question we get asked.

To understand the City’s approach, however, there are a few things we like to clarify first.

  1. Homelessness is not just one problem but a complexity of multiple issues. The issues range from drug dealing to substance abuse to crime and violence to pure economic hardship to mental illness to family homelessness and domestic violence to panhandling. Unfortunately, many of those who are truly in need in our community are victimized and discriminated -even criminalized- because they are associated with people engaging in illicit behavior who are contributing to the larger problem but may not actually be homeless themselves.
  2. Homelessness is a regional issue. Downtown Salt Lake City serves not just the homeless in Salt Lake, but the region’s homeless. The next nearest shelter to Downtown is in Midvale. It is a seasonal (only open during the colder months) family shelter that is operated by the Road Home. There is a small shelter in Ogden (about 50 beds) called St. Ann’s Center.
  3. The City does not own or operate a shelter. It is owned and operated by a private non-profit. The City grants the Road Home a permit to operate in their current location.

This coming Tuesday afternoon the City Council will receive a briefing from City staff about the measures the Mayor’s Administration is taking to address homelessness and the issues associated with homelessness in our city. I invite you to read the short briefing, which outlines a series of short-term solutions the City is undertaking. You can find that briefing here. I’ve also linked the pdf below.

131119 Homeless Issues Briefing to Council