Commission looks to other cities for inspiration, seeks public input on services for homeless in SLC

Posted at 9:40 PM, Mar 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-20 23:40:50-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Cities like Los Angeles and New York could soon serve as models for how Salt Lake City helps its homeless population.

The idea was posed to members of the Homeless Services Evaluation Commission during their second meeting, which was held Friday. Comprised of business owners, government officials and service providers, the commission was created to decide whether or not to move the city's shelter from its current Rio Grande address, or renovate its current location.

"There are a lot of best practices going on in other places that maybe we can learn from," said commission co-chair Palmer DePaulis.

Friday's meeting was primarily focused on education. Commission members learned about the needs for more space and accommodations, as well as mental health services. The problem they're grappling with is where and how to address it, which is why DePaulis said looking to other cities will be helpful in trying to strike a balance.

"Maybe we can do pieces of that here to fill in the gaps for us," DePaulis said. "We won't necessarily replicate another city, but we can look at things that would work here."

A decision from the commission is not expected until December, but some local service providers are already wary of the outcome.

"I'm still of the belief that services can be provided well where they are," said Glenn Bailey, executive director of the Crossroads Urban Center.

Recently, Bailey resigned from community group, the Pioneer Park Coalition, because he felt they were more interested in serving businesses, not the homeless.

Now, he has the same concerns of the coalition.

"I think they're overrepresented on the commission," Bailey said. "That's because they've been really good at lobbying the mayor and the governor."

But DePaulis disagreed, arguing the commission has 30 members from varying backgrounds.

"I don't believe that's the case," he said. "I think we have a pretty balanced representation."

Any concerns from the public can be voiced next month. There will be a public hearing on the issue April 17. The time has yet to be determined.

The remaining meetings are scheduled for the following dates:

  • May 22, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
  • August 14, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
  • November 13, 1:30-3:30
  • November 19, Time to be determined
  • December 17, 12:30-2:30 p.m.

While the previous meetings were held at the Salt Lake City Library, the remaining dates do not have locations listed.