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Group demands an end to SLC homeless camp abatements

Posted at 9:45 PM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 23:45:27-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Activists are calling on Salt Lake City leaders to stop breaking up homeless encampments until shelters can house everyone living on the streets.

At City Hall Friday, more than 50 people rallied for better support of those living on the streets of Salt Lake City.

“Housing is a human right,” protesters chanted.

The rally came one day after a large encampment west of Rio Grande was broken up over health and safety concerns.

“The public really needs to see what’s going on,” said Jason Gove, who is experiencing homelessness.

Gove said he’s forced to relocate every couple weeks because of routine sweeps.

“This is no fun. It’s no game out here,” he said.

READ: Homeless crisis increasing in Salt Lake City, resource centers ineffective

Many at the rally helped relocate the camps to an area on North Temple.

Their demands to city leaders included:

  • Stop sweeps until everyone is in a temporary shelter
  • Dedicate three areas for homeless encampments in the city
  • Provide sanitation services near camps

“Until such a time that people are not forced to camp, their needs must be funded before funding enforcers,” said organizer Denise Weaver.

Ahead of Thursday’s cleanup, social workers helped place more than 130 people in facilities.

“We understand encampment abatements are not a solution to homelessness; they are an effort to maintain minimum standards of health and safety in our community," a Salt Lake County Health Department spokesperson told FOX 13.

While advocates argue that more people than ever are living on Salt Lake’s streets, the number of people returning to homelessness after two years in housing dropped six percent, according to the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness.

Yet, it’s not happening fast enough for these advocates.

The county health department spokesperson says they are working with local and state leaders to find a more sustainable and long-term solution to homelessness.