Mayor Biskupski: New shelters are "spaces of hope" for homeless

Salt Lake City announces 4 sites for homeless resource centers

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) -   The long awaited future homeless shelters sites are a done deal according to city officials.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski Tuesday unveiled the four sites with a maximum capacity of 150 people.  Those locations are:
- Simpson Ave. Resource Center:  653 E. Simpson Ave. (700 East 2300 South)
- High Ave. Resource Center: 275 West High Ave (275 West  1400 South)
- 700 South Resource Center:  131 East 700 South
- 648 West Resource Center: 648 West 100 South

"The sites we are announcing today represent more than just land, they are spaces of hope for those in need," said the mayor.

The city wants to turn places like the Deseret Industries on 700 South into a modernized  resource center for the homeless.

Pamela Atkinson championed homeless causes in Utah and is also a member of the site commission.

"It will be smaller, the ambience will be conducive to healing," said Atkinson. "There will be mental health, drug and alcohol programs available."  

For the past two years, the commission has been studying Salt Lake City's current homeless shelter on Rio Grande.  Critics of the shelter said drug dealing and violence plague the area.
Under this plan, the shelter will be shutdown once the four shelters are built

"I ask everyone to have the courage to acknowledge the harsh realities we face in the Rio Grande neighborhood."

She said construction  will begin next year at sites like the one at the Deseret Industries on 700 South near State Street.  Their opening is expected in 2018.

The mayor said the four new resource centers will house only 150 people at each location.
In all, the 600 beds will be half of what exists today.  She said the resource centers are designed to provide services to get the homeless back into the workforce.

"Safety and security is also important to the long term success of these centers," said James Rogers, Chairman, Salt Lake City Council.

Atkinson said the new shelters will be designed so that it doesn't attract the unruly crowd currently found at the Rio Grande shelter.

"One of the things the city has to do now is to let the communities know what will happen in those resource centers, what will not happen," Atkinson said.
The question is will homeless, known for camping out on the streets,  come to these smaller shelters. 

Jeremy Griego said he was homeless for nearly a year and camped on the streets instead of going to the shelter.  He said long lines and the dangerous environment kept him away from the current shelter.  But he likes the idea of four sites with smaller populations

"I think they will (come) if they're willing to change themselves," said Griego who now lives in transitional housing.  "It will make it not so easy access for people to go down there to go and pick up drugs."

The mayor said residents who live near these sites were never told of their plans.  She said there will be public hearings beginning in January for  public input on the designs.

-January 11: Public Safety Building  1-3 p.m. and 6-8 pm.
-January 18: Public Safety Building, 6-8 pm.


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