Potential homeless overflow shelter in SLC under debate by local leaders

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Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall discusses the city’s short and long term plans regarding homelessness. (ABC4)

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The future of a potential homeless overflow shelter in Salt Lake City’s Ballpark neighborhood is causing debate from multiple groups.

On Thursday night, the Ballpark Community Council and the Central 9th Community Council will hold a virtual town hall meeting to educate residents in the area about a proposal brought to convert a detox center on Brooklyn Avenue, operated by Volunteers of America, into a homeless overflow shelter to be opened in the winter.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has voiced her concern over the project, issuing a press release earlier in the day to clarify her stance.

“Salt Lake City has contributed considerably more than its fair share to addressing the statewide homelessness crisis,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “However, it is clear that the State needs more emergency shelter beds. When the opportunity to get State funds for a future overflow emergency shelter in the City’s Ballpark neighborhood was presented a few weeks ago, I supported accessing those funds. Shortly after that vote, however, I learned of the very real possibility that providers will locate additional emergency shelter beds at a different location inside Salt Lake City. It is simply untenable to ask this City to support two more emergency shelters on top of the 853 beds we already support, let alone to ask the Ballpark community to shoulder another homeless services facility with zero guaranteed support dollars from the State.”

Salt Lake City has been dealing with an ongoing homeless problem and has several plans in place, including a proposed tiny home village for the displaced to be built, possibly on the west side, near Redwood Road. In Mendenhall’s words, however, a plan to place additional beds and shelters in another location in the city would create an imbalance compared to the rest of Salt Lake County.

The state’s Executive Appropriations Committee is set to vote on whether to purchase the detox property for a reported cost of $3 million on Tuesday.

According to the press release from the mayor’s office, an additional 300 beds are needed to safely house the homeless population in the area, as assessed by the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness.

ABC4’s Jillian Smuckler will provide additional details on the situation in Thursday’s 10 p.m. newscast.

The link to the virtual town hall meeting is found here.

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