Why Mayor Mendenhall is pausing the creation of new permanent shelters in Salt Lake City

Local News

Mayor Erin Mendenhall discusses the mask mandate she enacted for K-12 students in Salt Lake City. (Robert Hintz/ABC4)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – New permanent shelters cannot be created for the next six months in Salt Lake City following a petition from Mayor Erinn Mendenhall.

On Monday, Mayor Mendenhall started the petition to amend City Code 21A to ensure the location and type of homeless shelters and services in Salt Lake City are “carefully addressed.”

“Salt Lake City, and more specifically, certain districts in the City, bear a higher responsibility than other municipalities in the State to provide shelter and services to the State’s homeless population, and now is a crucial time for us to pause and chart a new, more balanced path forward in our plans for how those services take shape within the City,” Mayor Mendenhall says. “By taking this step, my goal is to help ensure that as a City we are more prescriptive in the process that would allow any new permanent shelters to operate within Salt Lake City.” 

According to the Mayor’s Office, the petition will prohibit any new permanent shelters for the next six months “as the City looks at the conditions under which it can approve conditional use permits for shelters going forward, and considers whether or not it should distinguish between temporary and permanent shelters in the city land-use processes.”

It does not prohibit the City from considering a potential temporary shelter location if a provider proposes a site in a zone currently allowing homeless shelters. The adoption process of the resulting ordinance will include review and recommendation by the Planning Commission prior to a review and decision by the City Council.

This comes around a month after state lawmakers were expected to vote on a controversial proposal to turn a detox facility in Salt Lake City’s Ballpark neighborhood into an overflow homeless shelter. The vote did not happen. In early September, Mayor Mendenhall voiced her concern over the project and even withdrew her support.

Earlier this year, a report was released saying the most often reported unmet need was that for more housing options.

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