SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Leaders revealed the total cost of Operation Rio Grande will be around $67 million over two years. Two thirds of the cost is already expected to be covered, but leaders will have to fill a $21 million gap.
Speaker Greg Hughes and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox talked about the cost of the operation on Monday. Leaders believe the cost will be worth it in the end. They note the amount of crime that was spreading to other areas.
“This may have been coming to our communities in a very different way,” said Speaker Hughes. “In a way that would have been much more costly.”
Stake holders will need to find $10.5 million each year to keep things going. Hughes and Cox said half of that will be paid by the state legislature. With the rest needling to come from other stake holders.
Leaders justify the cost by noting that homelessness is a state issue even if it’s not seen in everyone’s community.
“Regardless of where you live the homeless services are mostly here,” said Lt. Gov. Cox. “Not everyone who’s out here on Rio Grande comes from downtown Salt Lake City, and a lot of them come from your neighborhood.”
Leaders believe they will be able to make up the gap because of the number of agencies already involved.
Besides the 31 percent of funding still needed, two thirds is already expected to be there. 29 percent of the taken care of through agencies and their budgets, while 40 percent is estimated offset cost. Which means services like treatment beds will be expected to be paid for through a Medicaid waiver.
“I think the most important part of this waiver is that we could budget to a number and that number,” said Speaker Hughes. “The state would produce $30 million and the state would produce $70 million.”
The state is still waiting on the waiver to be granted by the federal government.
Leaders said they expected some funding gap and claim the $21 million is manageable. They believe this has to be done in order to make the transition into resource centers work. The resource centers are set to open in two years.
“If we don’t do this now than that will never work. We won’t be able to close the road home, and we will never be able to take advantage of these new resources.”