SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Council is asking Mayor Jackie Biskupski to provide addresses for potential new homeless shelter sites to them by Oct. 10, so they can begin vetting them and looking at the impact to neighborhoods.
In its meeting Tuesday night, council members expressed concerns about the size of the shelters but noted that Mayor Biskupski was adamant that there only be two, with 250-beds each.
“All seven City Council members have significant concerns about the size and potential impacts of such large facilities, but the Mayor is unwavering in her position that each of the two new centers have 250 beds and she has the legal authority to make that decision independently of the City Council,” Councilman Charlie Luke said in a statement. “Regardless, we still encourage Mayor Biskupski to decrease the size of the proposed facilities. I am firm in my position that each facility be capped at a maximum of 250 beds with no potential for additional beds.”
With $27 million in legislative funding, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County are looking to create smaller shelters and breaking up the problems on Rio Grande Street, where the shelter and nearby support services currently is. Businesses and residents in that area have long complained of drugs, crime and other problems in the area.
The mayor has said smaller shelters around the city would lessen the problem. But in the council statement, they said the size of the shelters is still too big and could simply shift Rio Grande’s problems to another part of the city.
“While site selection is ultimately the Mayor’s purview, the Council is committed to our constituents’ needs – both those with and without homes. We are elected to be the representatives of our districts and I have heard 250 is too large time and time again. I will keep saying it as long as I am hearing it,” councilman Derek Kitchen said in the statement.
In addition to asking for addresses for potential shelter sites, the council asked Mayor Biskupski to provide a plan by Nov. 1 on impact to neighborhoods that would have the new shelters. They also asked her to provide a plan for dealing with homeless services during the winter.