SALT LAKE CITY — One person living at a homeless camp set up in a Salt Lake City man's front yard died early Sunday morning, according to the owner of the property and Salt Lake City Police.
"Medical was called to that encampment this morning, just a little after six o'clock in the morning," said Lt. Brian Sloan with the Salt Lake City Police Department. "When medical arrived, they found the 45-year-old female in the tent that had passed away."
Salt Lake City resident Darin Mann, 31, opened his front yard to homeless individuals about a week ago in response to what he calls a "homeless crisis" in the city.
"I really wanted to create this space as a haven for people," Mann said. "But it's become very apparent to me that we have to come up with a community solution that's lasting."
He plans to start a GoFundMe campaign to build a tiny home village to help house those experiencing homelessness.
"If we can come up with funds as a community, and we can start coming up with a community solution then the city must start moving forward with us in that endeavor," Mann said emphatically.
Salt Lake City Police said the cause of the woman's death is still under investigation by the medical examiner's office, adding that the results should be released in the coming days. Police are working with the Salt Lake County Health Department to get those living in Mann's front yard into shelters.
"We plan on today sending down some social workers to that area to see if we can give some help to the people that are camping there to see if we can provide them with shelters to go to and some transportation to get there," Lt. Sloan added.
Mann was issued a code violation last week after city officials received several complaints about the camp. He was ordered to clean it up.
"I think there's a lot of health concerns," Lt. Sloan said. "Especially when you have a large group of people camping out together like that. There's the health and safety concerns, which is where the health department gets involved."
"It's just an absolute tragedy," Mann said. "Getting to know this woman has been quite a blessing."
Mann said he will work with city and county officials moving forward to help those living on his property find shelters and other homeless resources. The Salt Lake County Health Department has not yet responded to FOX 13's request for comment on the issue.
A Salt Lake City spokesperson sent the following statement Monday in response to this report:
- "It is inaccurate to say that Salt Lake City is not working to help provide resources to assist unsheltered people in the community. Annually the city provides more than $15 million in funding to support the professional agencies that provide direct services to the unsheltered — From running the homeless resource centers, to providing outreach and access to drug and mental health treatment — so that individuals can move indoors and get on a path to greater stability. On the night of February 6, shelter bed counts showed that beds were available in every shelter systemwide.
- "The City did encourage Mr. Mann to connect with service providers to help people transition into available resources as quickly as possible and is now working with him to transport individuals remaining at his residence to available shelter."