SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall announces tiny home pilot

A birds-eye concept of The Other Side Village. Photo Courtesy: Salt Lake City Mayor's Office

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 29, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced Thursday the formation of a partnership with The Other Side Academy to create a tiny home village.

The Other Side Village will be a pilot for a tiny home model of homeless services in Salt Lake City and will focus on serving people experiencing chronic homelessness, said a news release from the Mayor’s Office.

“This is a huge step forward in this project,” Mendenhall said. “We’re moving at light-speed here, given the scope and urgency of the challenge, and I think that’s a testament to the commitment of the city and our partners to confront the reality of this issue.

“In The Other Side Academy we have a partner that is devoted to the success and empowerment of its current students. They have a proven track record of successfully managing a peer-based community while being an asset to their neighborhood and this city. And I know that devotion and passion for success will carry over into their work on The Other Side Village.”

The Other Side Village will be an addition to the resources that already exist for people experiencing homelessness and could have an important, long-lasting impact on the chronically unsheltered segment of the homeless population, in particular, people for whom resource centers have not been a solution.

“The key for this to be successful is not the physical structure of having tiny homes, but the social system,” Joseph Grenny, chair and founder of The Other Side Academy said. “The primary ingredient for success, like at The Other Side Academy, is creating a strong culture that lifts and changes all who are part of it. This is what The Other Side Academy has learned to do. And we are committed to creating this same opportunity for our homeless neighbors.

“The most important part is to create an environment, socially and physically, that facilitates connection with others. Homelessness is the result of a catastrophic loss of family. So the solution must be to build a new family. The second most important part is establishing a community with strong social norms. This is what brings out the best in all of us. These strong norms will invite all to strive to achieve their potential, allowing them the dignity of being part of the solution, not just an issue to be solved.”

Laurie Hopkins, executive director of Shelter the Homeless, added: “Mayor Mendenhall’s tiny home initiative is an important option for individuals experiencing homelessness to connect with a community and much needed services. It’s also an investment in deeply affordable housing development, a key component in making homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring.”

The announcement is the first in a series of benchmarks that the city and its partners aim to meet this year in order to have The Other Side Village up and running this winter.

Mendenhall said: “The goal in my 2021 plan was to have tiny homes in place by this upcoming winter. Getting an operator and manager on board as a partner was one of the biggest milestones to meeting that goal, so I’m pleased to have reached this place so quickly. Really, without a service management partner, as optimistic about the concept as we are, a tiny home community would be impossible.”

The announcement comes after the city ran a series of working groups this year to develop a tiny home plan that could work in Salt Lake City.

It is expected that further announcements around planning for a location for the Village will be made in the coming months.

For concept images of The Other Side Village click here.


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