SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Homeless advocates are sounding off in the wake of Thursday’s announcement of a new temporary homeless shelter in Salt Lake City.
“People are here trying to survive,” said Maura Sanchez. Sanchez is a member of several advocacy groups including Civil Riot and Just Media Utah.
On Friday, ABC4 met Sanchez at Taufer Park. It’s where dozens of the unsheltered are known to set up tents.
“It’s not a comfortable place to be in,” said Sanchez. “At the same time, it maybe the only option some people have.”
On Thursday, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced the city’s next step to counter homelessness.
“On day 11 of my administration, I am proud to announce that we have a plan,” said Mayor Mendenhall. “Within the next week, we will be expanding the number of beds available to our unsheltered neighbors.”
An empty building located at 2234 South Highland Drive in Sugarhouse is the new temporary shelter.
It will offer 145 cots. That’s paired with the 700 being offered by the city’s three homeless resource centers and more than 50 beds at St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall.
That’s just over 900 beds. It’s still around 200 beds short of the Road Home Shelter’s total capacity. It officially closed in November.
“It’s definitely not enough because with the Road Home the occupancy was 1100,” said Sanchez.
That sentiment is being echoed by some business owners in the area of 300 West 1700 south.
While they didn’t want to go on-camera, owners say they’re seeing an uptick in crime they believe is being committed by the homeless.
Just last week, two businesses were broken into.
By phone, Salt Lake City Police tell ABC4, the numbers don’t reflect an uptick.
Comparing 2019 to 2020 year-to-date, there have been a total of 12 crimes reported for 2019, and eight for 2020.
Those incidents, however, are for actual reports. Business owners who talked to ABC4 say their calls aren’t making it pass dispatch.
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