Third Homeless Shelter Site Selected—Now What?


Every time a Utah town or neighborhood suffers a flash flood, windstorm or mudslide, TV news gushes over the outpouring of help and support from neighbors who pitch in to dig them out. It can be annoying, of course, because the reports have a smugness that assumes other communities in the nation, apparently reared by wolves, turn their backs on neighbors in need.

It’s time to rein in that smugness, Utah. Sugar House and Draper have proven we’re no more compassionate than Mogadishu, Malibu or Mar-a-Lago.

One can’t follow the news about Salt Lake’s placement of homeless shelters and not wonder how much lower NIMBYism can go. Raucous citizens ripped into Mayor Jackie Biscupski and her staff when they dared to propose a homeless resource center in family-values Sugar House. And this week, Draper residents actually booed a homeless man who had the chutzpah to try to thank officials for trying to help the less fortunate. “Nobody wants homeless people in their community,” he said before retreating amid boos.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams dnamed a lot (3380 S. 1000 West) near the county jail in South Salt Lake for the third homeless resource center.

The site has public transportation to downtown Salt Lake City and and other services, he said.

Prior to the decision, McAdams said, “Doing nothing is simply not an option.”

Until the resource centers are built over the next two years and a yet-untested new strategy is launched for moving the homeless into housing after drug, alcohol and mental illness treatment, the “crisis” in SLC’s Rio Grande-Pioneer Park area still remains.

Sheriff Jim Winder announced a draconian plan in advance of Salt Lake City’s homeless season that peaks as the weather warms up. Winder’s 21-points of light strategy actually includes a proposal for a homeless internment camp west of downtown where the residents will presumably be searched at the gate for illicit drugs and weapons. Camp Winder will fill as the Road Home shelter’s capacity is reduced from 1,100-1,400 beds to 200 in two months.

Winder would also close the downtown liquor store at 400 S. 200 West because it’s a magnet for lawbreakers (and Salt Palace conventioneers). He also would confiscate unlicensed bicycles because they can be used for drug running.

“People have had it,” the sheriff said. “These solutions need to start now.”

Either Winder is becoming the Joe Arpaio of Utah or, we hope, he’s bluffing with his “exceptional steps” to light a fire under public officials.d

Glen Warchol
Glen Warchol
The late, great Glen Warchol passed away in 2018. His last billet was on the editorial staff here at Salt Lake magazine but his storied career included stops at The Salt Lake Tribune, The Desert News, The New Times and others. His stories haunt this website like ghosts in a machine and we're always happy to see them. RIP Papa Warchol.

Similar Articles