Simpson Ave. Residents Rejoice

Homeless Resource Center won't be built in Sugar House

SUGAR HOUSE (ABC4 Utah) - Residents in the Simpson Avenue area of Sugar House are rejoicing at the news that their neighborhood is no longer being considered for a future site for a homeless resource center. The announcement was made Friday by Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Speaker Greg Hughes and others.                                    

It was clear how the residents in the Simpson Avenue area felt about the decision that their neighborhood would house a homeless resource center. For weeks they spoke out at packed city council meetings and sounded off at town halls. "You betrayed our community," said one Simpson Avenue resident. "My heart sank, because I thought what is going to happen," questioned another. Residents were upset about how they'd been shut out of the process."We were told 'We're putting this here, you better get used to it.' I just object that that kind of government."

Sugar House residents living near the proposed Simpson Avenue site didn't give up, and finally their persistence paid off. "I couldn't be happier," said Chris Sveiven, a member of the Simpson Avenue Coalition. "I think it was one of those things where the community gets together and makes their voices heard, and we were heard."

Guillermo Avila Paz moved to this Sugar House neighborhood after an accident on the ski hill left him disabled. He was one of the active neighbors who wrote letters to the mayor, city council members and state lawmakers about how the Simpson Avenue site would be a huge mistake. "You know I have a brain injury and this, to me, doesn't sound logical spending that much money taking someone else's resources to create a resource center."

Friday's announcement that the resource center won't be going in at Simpson Avenue brought a range of emotions for the owner of the Lit'l Scholars Learning Center. Patrick Marino said, "We're happy for them because if something like this rose in my neighborhood I'd fight tooth and nail the same way they did, but for us it still leaves us up in the air to know what is our future in this location or out of this location."

It's still unclear if the city is going to move forward with buying the Simpson Avenue property, but one thing is clear no homeless resource center is going in to this neighborhood. "I think that process that the mayor has done, everything behind closed doors, I think it bit her in the butt," said Avila Paz.

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