SLC forms committee to look at moving homeless shelters

Posted at 3:46 PM, Dec 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-12 23:37:00-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The mayor's office has announced a committee to explore the idea of moving the city's homeless shelter and social service agencies.

In a statement Friday, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker's office said the committee will "evaluate and consider the best configurations and locations for shelter and other emergency homeless services and assemble a recommendation report to help shape the future of these facilities in Salt Lake City."

The committee, called the Homeless Services Site Evaluation Committee, will be chaired by Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller and former mayor Palmer DePaulis. It will include input from social service groups, the mayor's office said.

"Our providers do a great job offering services to those experiencing homelessness," said Becker in a statement. "We need to determine how the greater community can effectively support these providers in their efforts."

Officials said that when the Road Home shelter was built in downtown Salt Lake City it was the right place at the right time, but growth has sparked discussion about a possible move.

Becker said: "Look at these facilities today, what our needs are, what our gaps are, how we can improve these facilities one way or another?"

He added, "That will include looking at the existing facilities, and can they be improved either in place, or will another location serve the homeless population better?"

Pamela Atkinson, a community advocate, spoke about the issue.

"I just want to see the best possible services delivered in the best possible way by so many of our great providers," she said.

FOX 13 News' Annie Cutler spoke with some people who are homeless and who were in the area of the shelter Friday. Some of them said a move might allow more services to be delivered to the community, while others worried that a move might make traveling to shelters via public transportation more difficult. See the video above for their interviews.

Homeless shelters have seen pushes to move as new development springs up around Pioneer Park and the Gateway.

The group is set to first meet in January and present a report by fall 2015.