State officially approves three homeless resource center sites

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UPDATE: This morning the Homeless Resource Center Site Selection Committee approved Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams’ recommendation for the three sites — two in Salt Lake City and one in South Salt Lake located at 3380 South 1000 West.  

“The purpose of our committee today was to accept the proposals from Salt Lake County.  There were certain deadlines put in place, we had to have a proposal, if the proposal met the outlines of the legislation– which was passed this legislative session — then the obligation of our committee was to approve the sites.  We approved those three sites, we will now be waiting for a formal proposal in which we would then approve the proposal down the road,” said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. 

Despite a last ditch effort by South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood and the residents of South Salt Lake to quash the proposal.

“We feel his [Mayor McAdams] decision was made in haste and out of desperation. Haste to meet a deadline and desperation to put an end to this issue,” said Cindy a South Salt Lake resident.  

“How many more undesirable projects are gonna be dumped on South Salt Lake?” asked Mayor Cherie Wood.  “South Salt Lake has all the facilities that no one wants — these include 2 county jails, 2 juvenile detention centers, an 84-bed facility for chronically homeless, a sewer treatment plant, and many more — and no county facilities that everyone wants.” 

The mayor fought the move saying there were no grocery stores, services nearby the proposed location and too far for public transportation to transport homeless to nearby services which are predominantly located in downtown Salt Lake City.  

She also argued the move saying the proposed location would create more obstacles for an already suffering Jordan River Parkway and possibly deter economic expansion and prosperity, citing that an elementary school proposed to go up nearby could be potentially be pulled because of the approval to place a homeless resource center nearby.  

Mayor McAdams said he would work with the city to ensure that this resource center does not harm the communities it surrounds and would be working to ensure that the Jordan River is left better than it is now and to help make the area more desirable.  

However, despite pleas to reject the proposal, the committee voted in favor with one outstanding vote — by Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini — to approve the sites.

The motion, however, didn’t pass without another recommendation to ensure that no ground be broken on the sites until the legislature is able to allocate money to properly fund operations and to offset the negative impacts that the site would have on the surrounding communities. 

“Everyone sees the downtown shelter now and they think that’s what’s coming to my neighborhood and that’s not what’s coming to their neighborhood and we still have to prove that, and we’re going to.  We’ve learned a lot over those years and we’re gonna be making those changes to make sure it’s not what they see now.  It’s something that can change their community,” said Lt. Gov. Cox.  “The first guarantee is that we have to approve the funding so in order to approve the funding we need to make sure that we get a funding proposal that helps mitigate the needs that we’re talking about there and that’s the first level.”

But, if no construction is to take place until after the next legislative session to approve the funding can the deadline be met to have the centers built by the time the Rio Grande District homeless shelter shuts down on June 30, 2019, as required by House Bill 441?

“We’re told that a building like this has a construction window of 12-15 months so we’re confident that we can meet the deadline,” said Mayor Ben McAdams.  “This would be up and running no later than June, 2019.” 

Lt. Gov Cox added to that confidence by saying, “there is a lot of work that we’ll be doing this next legislative session that includes getting drawings done, getting the proposal, making decisions on who’s gonna be where on these three sites, and the construction phase the piece we’re asking the legislature to hold off on until we can get the funding resources in place.”  

In response to which homeless population would go in the South Salt Lake location, both the mayor and the lieutenant governor said that was still being worked out, both expressed there would be a likelihood that the lower needs population would be moving there.

“We haven’t had that conversation with the other stakeholders.  I could see it service low-needs single men or lower-needs men and women in a segregated facility,” said Mayor McAdams.  

Lt. Gov. Cox added, “I think that’s likely correct.  No decision has been made but, that’s the recommendation of the mayor.  Again, because of geography and where its located we’re gonna want the higher population closer to the resources in downtown Salt Lake City. 

Already, $20-million dollars have been set aside for the construction of the three sites.  But the committee is hoping to lock down additional money.  

“That’s the important part that didn’t get done in this session because of the technicalities but the speaker of the house has said that he’s very supportive and we will be able to move that quickly in the next session.” said Lt. Gov. Cox.  “There will be additional funding in the next legislative session that has already been talked about and that will be ready up above the 20-million that is on the table, we wont need that until construction starts next year.” 

Throughout the process, Lt. Gov. Cox commended the residents of South Salt Lake for their “humanity and compassion,” on the issue.  His comments come after proposals in Draper turned very contentious with residents threatening lawsuits, expressing extreme anger, and calling for Mayor Troy Walker to step down or be voted out of office. Threats that forced the mayor to rescind two proposed sites in his city the very next day.  

“I want to promise you that you have my support and support of the mayor [McAdams] to make sure that we follow up on these things,” said Lt. Gov. Cox.  “It’s very clear that no city wanted this resource center, but I want to commend South Salt Lake.  You opposed it the right way and I want to commend you for your kindness…while not everyone has opposed this the right way I want to thank you for your willingness for working together with us.  

Still, this only the first step in a much longer process and the mayor of South Salt Lake says she plans to be at the head every step of the way moving forward.

“We’re not saying not in my backyard, we’re saying our backyard is full,” said Mayor Cherie Wood.  “Moving forward now I want a seat at the table.”

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – This morning the Utah State Legislature officially chose the final site of the third homeless resource center bringing an end to months of studying sites, and the fallout from communities battling to keep the center out of their neighborhoods.

The South Salt Lake location was chosen to be placed at 3380 South, 1000 West which is near the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the Salt Lake County Emergency Management building.

The site was chosen by Mayor Ben McAdams and the Site Selection Committee after months of studying nine prospective sites with a strict deadline set by the legislature (HB 441) to have a location picked by March 30th.  A state committee considered the recommendation by the mayor and officially decided the final location Monday.

This third site, the mayor says, fits the original criteria for a center.  He says key features include the large size of the two-and-a-half acre lot, it’s low selling price, and it’s close proximity to the jail.

This site will join two other centers set to be built in Salt Lake City over the next two years and an already existing center which will be expanding in Midvale.  

The selection of South Salt Lake comes after the fallout of the original plan of having four centers spread throughout Salt Lake County, particularly by residents objecting and protesting the Simpson Avenue and 600 West location.The location was later pulled from consideration.

In March the state legislature passed House Bill 441 which set aside 20-million dollars to fund the new resource centers with a strict deadline that the mayor and site selection committee have a site chosen and ready to present to the state by March 30th.  

In the weeks following, several sites were chosen in South Salt Lake and West Valley City creating more controversy and protests during town hall meetings that were set up to help gather input from the public and present information.

Just a week before the official deadline, and with continued protests about the potential sites, Draper City Mayor Troy Walker offered up two locations in his city for the final resource center.  His announcement was met with more public outcry and protests from the residents of Draper who expressed their anger in a town hall meeting.  The next day the mayor pulled the sites from consideration after threats that he would be voted out of office.

Though he had pulled the sites, they were still up for consideration by the site selection committee.  On March 30th, Mayor McAdams officially announced that he had chosen the 3380 South, 1000 West location for the third resource center.

The Mayor’s recommendation to Lt. Governor Spencer Cox doesn’t come without some conditions.  McAdams says he plans to leave the nearby Jordan River in better condition than it is today.  He also promises not to break ground until the legislature passes a bill compensating South Salt Lake for any negative economic impacts of putting the shelter in their community.  

The two centers in Salt Lake City are on schedule to be built in 2019.  The Road Home, that currently houses much of the city’s homeless population, will be closed by June 30, 2019. 

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