SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – An audit by the Legislative Auditor General found some disturbing details about security, drug use, and not enforcing rules in place for three facilities run by The Road Home.
At a committee meeting with leaders of homeless services, lawmakers seemed frustrated that the rules of these facilities appeared to not be enforced along the lines of their “no tolerance” policy.
The Road Home seemed to insist when compared to the number of people they serve these incidents are quite low. Executive Director Matt Minkevitch points out the high rate of homelessness, and the boom in drug addiction has made it difficult to enforce rules that were adopted years ago.
“You’re caught with a needle you’re out for a year. That doesn’t make sense right now,” said Minkevitch. “Because we don’t have somewhere to refer that individual.”
House Speaker Greg Hughes (R-Draper) voiced his frustration that a person was arrested with a gun inside the facility, that was supposed to be banned from it.
“When I see that gun on that picture, and when I hear the screening is not, well it’s varying. It’s not happening!” said Speaker Hughes.
Rep. Brian King said he also wants to see these issues addressed. He also pointed out the facility is dealing with a tough population. Rep. King questioned the ability and safety of employees to deal with the issues.
“They are expected to deal with a population that, you say James, is dealing in 20 percent illegal activity and addicted to drugs,” said Rep. King.
The audit found the dealing and consuming of drugs were happening in their facilities, and required checks of belongings were not taking place on a regular basis.
When it came to the facility of Palmer Court, the audit found residents skirting the rules, and some had piled up back rents, and evictions were not always enforced. The audit shows the unpaid debt from back rent was around $438,000. All residents must pay at least some form of rent. Even if it’s just $25.
The Road Home notes they do take people’s circumstances into consideration before any eveiction.
Speaker Hughes, who has been a champion of Operation Rio Grande, said the incidents noted in the report were “unacceptable.”
“That is chilling for me to read and chilling for me to understand,” said Hughes.
Hughes told homeless leaders if they need more help to handle the influx of people, they should just ask.
The Speaker said what upset him the most is that people had been coming to him with similar stories like those outlined in the report. Although Speaker Hughes was told by homeless leaders those stories were exaggerated. He now regrets not doing more about it.
“Not taking the word of those seeking my help as seriously as I should have, and it made me upset frankly,” said Speaker Hughes.