Salt Lake County officials have emphasized repeatedly that the homeless problem is a statewide issue that has to be confronted with statewide resources.
Of course, the rest of the state and their representatives at the Legislature ignore it because their hometown homeless gravitate to Salt Lake City where the services and drug dealers are. Out of sight out of mind.
Apparently, that’s ending, Provo is seeing an increase in homeless people, unsightly panhandling and even more unsightly drug dealing showing up on its streets, which, not incidentally, are also the doorstep of BYU’s squeaky-clean ivory towers.
Why this is a good thing: Utah County has immense clout at the Legislature, which Salt Lake County is cajoling for the money it needs to make its homeless programs and resource centers successful.
The funny part (not-ha-ha funny): The Provo Daily Herald reports that some of the newly arrived homeless told authorities that they had been sent to Provo by SLC cops. (It’s a new iteration of the old myth that cities across the West get rid of their homeless by giving them bus tickets to Salt Lake City.)
Brent Crane, director of the Food and Care Coalition in Provo, told the Daily Herald: “They were very transparent as people were coming in saying, ‘Yeah, Salt Lake City sent us down here. Salt Lake City Police sent us down here.’”
If that’s true, it would be the first time Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s hapless administration made a crafty political move in dealing with the homeless crisis.
Maybe there’s hope.