SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah News) – Hundreds of concerned citizens showed up at Nibley Park Elementary School Wednesday night for the final public meeting on Salt Lake City’s four new homeless resource centers.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski was out of town but her Deputy Chief of Staff David Litvack was there and he got an earful from some Sugarhouse residents who are upset about the proposed resource center at 653 East Simpson Avenue.
At one point resident Kurt Ovard loudly addressed Litvack about the site selection process.
“Somehow the City has decided that you can do stuff and we have to suffer,” Ovard said, calling City government the “ruling class”.
“We are told ‘We’re putting this here. You better get used to it’,” Ovard said. “I just object to that kind of government…We’re not being told how much damage is going to be done and so far the way this this been run, I think the lack of honesty is apparent.”
Another resident ,Betsy Carson de Avia, said that even though the Simpson Avenue center is expected to house women and children, she’s worried for her safety.
“They state that it probably is going to be the women’s shelter and you’re going to end up with the people the women are fleeing from,” Carson de Avia told ABC4 Utah News. “The abusers, the rapists, the pimps, drug dealers the whole nine yards.”
Isaac Furniss says he supports the City’s new homeless plan and some people are having an overreaction because of their emotions.
“Even if it’s in your backyard, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be like Downtown,” Furniss said. “We need for it to be distributed so it is not like Downtown so I think we’ve been doing really well.”
District 7 Councilwoman Lisa Adams represents the Sugarhouse area and opposes the Simpson Avenue site.
“When the price tag came out – $7 million – I just don’t feel like that is a good real estate deal,” Adams said. “I don’t feel like it seems like a prudent purchase. The fact that we’re buying out a lawsuit, we may have to buy out leases, it just seems like it is fraught with problems and I think we need to rethink it.”
Litvack declined an interview with ABC4, saying he was too busy speaking to constituents.
Some Sugarhouse residents have started a GoFundMe account to try to raise $10,000, the amount of earnest money the City would have to pay to back out of the Simpson Avenue sale.