SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 13, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupsi has announced the sites for four homeless centers to be built in the city.
“The sites for the new homeless resource centers represent more than just land,” Biskupski told her listeners Tuesday at the City and County Building. The locations were selected without public input.
“They are spaces for hope for those in need” and a call for compassion from the community, she said.
“I ask everyone to have the courage to acknowledge the harsh realities we face in the Rio Grande neighborhood,” Biskupski said, referencing the drug and crime problems in the area just west of downtown near The Road Home, a shelter with 1,100 beds. The new locations each will have a maximum of 150 beds.
• Center No. 1 will be at 653 E. Simpson Ave., which is near 700 East and 2300 South. Biskupski said the location will make the center highly accessible to clients because of possible employment opportunities nearby, and options for transit, but it will provide a buffer between nearby residential areas.
• Center No. 2 will be at 275 W. High Ave., which is at about 1400 South. It is located in a neighborhood with existing services for the homeless population, and the center will have three acres of land.
“It will provide significant open space for resource center clients, and can only be accessed through small side streets,” Biskupski said, adding that both clients and neighbors can feel safe.
• Center No. 3 will be at 131 E. 700 South, currently the site of a Deseret Industries store.
“The site was secured through a great partnership with the LDS Church,” Biskupski said.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has given the city the option to buy the location within three years, during which time city officials will help LDS officials look for a new downtown site for a store.
• And Center No. 4 will be at 648 W. 100 South, on property owned by the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency.
“It’s within walking distance of two light-rail stations, which will allow people to get jobs,” Biskupski said. The site will be in the Depot district, she said, but will be less accessible to drug dealers “due to limited access points.”
Biskupski said planners hope to begin construction in 2017, with additional construction in 2018. The current downtown shelter, the Road Home, at 210 S. Rio Grande St., will remain open until the four new centers open, then will close permanently, Biskupski said.
The four new shelters together will provide about 500 fewer beds than does the Road Home, but a new emphasis will be put on increasing affordable housing.
Biskupski asked Salt Lake City residents and businesses to support the new plan. When a reporter asked how the decisions might affect property values in the site areas, Biskupski avoided the question.
“We can either try to find reasons for this to not work and not be successful, or we can find reasons to make sure it is successful,” she said. “I’m hoping that you who serve in the media will not be out running around looking for reasons for us to fail, but to find good reasons for us to succeed.”
After suggesting journalists be supportive rather than objective, Biskupski paused, and the reporter again asked about the shelters’ impact. The mayor turned her face to the other side of the audience, and asked, “Does anyone have any other questions?”
The public will be invited to offer input on building design at two workshops in January, dates and times to be announced. The locations are set, pending expected approval by the City Council, Biskupski indicated.