Salt Lake County Mayor confirms who goes where in new homeless shelters

Posted at 7:08 PM, May 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-19 00:44:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- After much debate and controversy, county leaders have determined which populations each of three new homeless resource centers around the valley will serve.

Michelle Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Salt Lake County Mayor's Office, said the shelter for men will be in South Salt Lake at 3380 South 1000 West.

The shelter for women will be in Salt Lake City near 131 East and 700 South.

Another shelter serving a mix of men and women will be near 275 West High Ave. (near 1400 South) in Salt Lake City.

McAdams' office confirmed the selections Thursday night but declined to comment further.

The new homeless resource centers are part of an effort by city and county leaders to disperse the concentration of services for the homeless in the Rio Grande district downtown. Each center will have fewer beds than the larger shelter downtown and will focus on serving more specific groups.

Residents near the proposed site in South Salt Lake were upset upon hearing the men's population will be coming to the neighborhood. They said they were concerned that the men's shelter would bring more crime to the area, and turn their street into the next Rio Grande.

The homeowners were also upset because they said no one from the county notified them of the announcement.

"We're shocked," said Mark McQueen, who's lived in his home for 30 years. "Nobody has told us anything down here, we're wondering what's going on. Nobody has talked to us."

He said a county representative met with them in the neighborhood about a month ago, and talked about the possibility that the county would offer to buy their properties for fair market value.

His 81-year old neighbor across the street Elaine Jones, who has lived in the neighborhood 55 years, said fair market value wouldn't be enough compensation because she owns a couple of agricultural acres. She said that size of land would be too expensive to buy elsewhere in the valley.

She and McQueen said they'd be asking for replacement value for their properties.

They said after telling the county representative they want replacement value versus fair market value, they never got a response.

"I just feel that we have no choice except to move, and the question is-- What are they going to do?" She asked. "Are they going to do right by us? Or are they going to come in here and lowball and try to throw us out?"

The site in their South Salt Lake neighborhood was the last to be selected, with the decision coming after an often contentious debate that sprang up as sites were considered in places like Sugar House, Draper, West Valley City and South Salt Lake.

On Thursday evening, Ben Pender, chair of the South Salt Lake Council said the latest announcement is another illustration of Salt Lake County overwhelming a city that already has a third of county and state services in the community.

"I think we are taking several steps back now," Pender said on the phone.

He said the concern he has with the men's shelter is there are no services near the proposed location. He said another problem is that the jail is in the area. Pender said there could be more problems with loitering and transient camping issues along the Jordan River nearby.

"If folks don't succeed in the program, they'll migrate somewhere," he said.

Pender said the city will have to provide services for the shelter. For example, he said the police would take on the additional calls.

"Our businesses and residents will suffer," he said.

At this point, Pender said the county hasn't said how they will assist South Salt Lake in supporting the shelter.

He said the county is building the new shelters and implementing them without a full plan, but instead just "winging it."

"It's like putting the cart before the horse," he said, later adding, "No one seems to have a plan."