SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – 300 additional beds by Dec. 1: that’s part of a new plan to address homelessness that Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced Thursday. It’s the latest attempt to alleviate a crisis that has gone on for decades in Utah’s capital city.

Four years ago, Operation Rio Grande cleared the streets of downtown, and two years ago, three new homeless resource centers opened their doors.

“Despite these efforts, the homeless services system remains unable to ensure that any person who needs it has a safe, sheltered space to sleep at night and access to the services they need to help them get back on their feet,” Mayor Mendenhall said on the steps of the City-County Building. “This is unacceptable.”

The mayor unveiled a six-part Venn diagram of steps, including increased enforcement of the city’s anti-camping ordinance, expanding mental health services, and investing federal money from the American Rescue Plan into permanent housing.

ABC4 News asked the mayor and Utah’s Homeless Services Coordinator Wayne Niederhauser if this new plan means that the resource center model isn’t working.  

“The resource center system is working very well,” the mayor replied. “The flow-through to permanent supportive and transitional housing is not working as well in that capacity.”

“The problem is not our shelter system. They’re doing a great job,” Niederhauser said. “It’s on the other side. It’s our treatment facilities, treatment beds. It’s housing opportunities and if we don’t have enough of that. It backs up in the shelters…You’ve got to have what’s after the resource center and that’s housing and treatment.”

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