Friday, January 15, 2021

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Citizen's Guide To Homelessness


Salt Lake City this week convened the last in a series of public-engagement workshops on building two new homeless shelters to address the seemingly insurmountable problem of homelessness downtown. (Despite some national reports, Salt Lake has not “solved” homelessness.)

The workshop at the new Marmalade Library was packed and the citizens and staff from homeless-service providers worked diligently. Even a couple of transitioning-homeless people joined in to provide an often-overlooked street perspective.

The city provided vegetables, dip, M&M chocolate-chip cookies and facilitators.

It soon became apparent, however, that the workshop’s parameters were going to be controlled. For one thing, the participants were issued a pre-determined list of “Criteria for Success” to prioritize. The list was developed by the city’s Homeless Services Site Commission.

Here’s a recap on where we are on solving homelessness:

— The city’s got a new plan that would disperse services (and the homeless) around the city.

— We’re going to build two new centers—men and women, respectively.

— And soon to come: “Community partners” will agree on shared goals to end homelessness.

The workshops seem to be the mayor’s office’s response to the public’s skepticism and feeling of powerlessness on the placement of homeless centers. For instance:

— In whose neighbornood will the centers be built? It’s unlikely Federal Heights will host a homeless center despite its proximity to the Trax line (a Criteria for Success priority). More likely is the west side, perhaps along North Temple.

— City officials insist the new centers will be additions to the existing Pioneer Park shelters—not replacements. But developers—who are salivating over future multi-use projects in the prime Rio Grande neighborhood—don’t find panhandlers alluring to condo dwellers. (Keep in mind that the Road Home Center and Catholic Charities own the property they are on and intend to keep facilities downtown.) But as we know, what developers want in Salt Lake City is usually what they get.


The team at my table took the exercise at face value rather than a charade of public involvement. For instance, we emphasizing an effective staff-to-client ratio (not listed as a “success criteria”) over “aesthetically pleasing” architecture.

It wasn’t until the workshop’s end that frustration with the new mayor’s office’s capacity to deal with the issue emerged. At the close of the session, a citizen-participant asked Jen Seelig, director of Community Relations, “It seems like we’ve been working on this for years, when will the project start?”

“You mean ‘start’ like in shovels-turning-over-dirt start?” Selig asked.


City staff apparently hadn’t prepared for common-sense questions and Seelig immediately punted to Mike Reberg, head of Community and Neighborhood Development. Startled, Reberg began a sentence, hemmed—started again, hawed, then finally said, “In the near future.”

The room roiled with rueful laughter and murmurs of “politics.”

Our Jan/Feb issue is out on stands now! This issue means so much to us. Made with lots of love and tears. We hope you’ll grab a copy and enjoy every moment of reading it. ❤️ ...

Here's one from our upcoming Jan/Feb issue out on stands in just a few days. We hope you’ll grab a copy and enjoy every moment of reading it.⁠

Mary photobombs Lisa Barlow at the premiere party for Real Housewives of Salt Lake. Below is a snippet from Mary's last editor's letter:⁠

"It’s all a little crazy.⁠
Sometime in 2020, the world stopped making sense for a lot of us. Between one of the ugliest election cycles the U.S. has ever been through and the most mysterious disease most of us have ever experienced, normal was canceled. We can’t get together with friends, hug our loved ones, be in the room with them when they die. But somehow we have to go on, right? Somehow we have to continue to work and love and laugh. This issue of Salt Lake magazine holds a lot of frivolity, the main one being an extremely silly TV show, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. There I am in a pink fur coat in a car with our cover housewife, Lisa Barlow and her boys."⁠

Pick up our Jan/Feb issue at your local grocer and read the full letter. ❤️

Link in bio to subscribe.

We love you so much, Salt Lake ❤️⁠

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday. Be merry, be bright and be good for goodness sake! ✨

Skip the milk and cookies this holiday and leave out something that Santa really wants 🍺😉🎅⁠

Check out our local holiday beer round up for last minute gift ideas! Link in bio!

Mary's last-minute holiday gift ideas from last year are still as true and relevant today...⁠

"The planet we live with and the creatures on it need all kinds of things. Polar bears need presents, tree frogs in the Amazon need gifts, our Utah canyons and our national parks need help."⁠

Check the link in bio for full write up.

There was never a time there wasn’t Mary Malouf. Until now. Today, Mary died when a rogue wave swept her out to sea off the coast of Northern California. Only she – perhaps the world’s foremost lover of Bronte, BBC mysteries and, of course, Moby Dick – would appreciate such poetic drama.

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.” — Mary Brown Malouf. Ooops. Herman Mellville.