Organization resigns from coalition, says agenda is about relocating homeless in SLC rather than helping them

Posted at 9:19 PM, Feb 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-19 23:19:13-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Salt Lake City homeless service provider is at odds with a group aimed at dealing with homeless issues.

The Crossroads Urban Center resigned from the Pioneer Park Coalition on Wednesday, explaining they no longer believe the coalition shares their view on how to help the homeless.

“Their agenda really is about moving, relocating homeless services from the Gateway area, which is a position we don’t support,” said Glenn Bailey, Executive Director of the center.

Bailey has been partnering with the coalition for the last year. Comprised of business owners, developers and residents, the non-profit is focused on improving homeless services. However, over the last year, Bailey said the focus turned to simply moving the homeless services.

“We no longer felt comfortable having our name used as part of the coalition,” he said.

The discomfort grew after the coalition petitioned the state legislature last week for $1 million in funding for permanent-style housing for the homeless. In a small packet handed out to lawmakers, there were two possible sites listed for the project. According to the information, they are located at 1528 W. North Temple and 1849 W. North Temple.

“We didn’t know this was coming up or was even on the table,” said James Rogers, a Salt Lake City councilman.

Both locations fall in Rogers’ district and were slated for other development. According to him, no one on the council was even aware of the coalition’s plans.

“It is the Grand Boulevard to Salt Lake City and people coming from the airport, on TRAX, that’s their first image of Salt Lake City,” Rogers said, “And we want to make it an appropriate one.”

But members of the coalition denied any plans to develop on the sites, or move the shelter in the future.

“It’s such a tempest in a teapot that they’re trying to make over this,” said coalition co-chair Scott Howell.

The housing project brought before the legislature is being considered for 20 possible sites across Salt Lake County, according to Howell. The two sites on the west side were viewed as part of a fact-finding mission a year ago, but have since been sold off to developers.

“It’s so misguided and misunderstood,” Howell said. “Those were examples of sites that we went on a fact gathering trip to have.”

The plan, which would use $4.4 million in public and private funding, would construct about 80 units of permanent housing.

“Why wouldn’t they want to be a part of a solution to get $1 million to put in permanent housing for our brothers and sisters?” Howell said, in response to Bailey’s resignation.

Howell contended the coalition is dedicated to working with the county and city on finding a solution to homeless services issues.

“We are transparent, and we are open,” he said. “And we want all of our partners there. But we don't have any nefarious or hidden agendas.”