SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — City, county and state leaders announced Thursday that they are working with homeless shelter providers to address the “health and safety implications” that may arise from a large-scale event like the NBA All-Star Weekend by organizing watch parties.

Homeless advocacy group 2nd and 2nd Coalition claims these leaders are punishing them for speaking to the press about a plan to provide extra services during the NBA All-Star.

Wendy Garvin with the 2nd and 2nd Coalition said this was an attempt to hide the unhoused. 

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall released a video on social media denying this claim, adding that it was volunteers who asked the county, state and city to give them money to expand services. 

Garvin called this a lie, saying city and county officials asked 2nd and 2nd to provide a budget to bring to the state homeless coordinator. 

“If these resources were available, why aren’t they available on the coldest nights and not on the most public nights?” Garvin said. 

She added she did not want to be a part of the plans, but she said she knew the money could help a lot of people. However, one day after she was interviewed, she said the state homeless coordinator funding was no longer available. 

ABC4 News reached out to Mendhall’s office for comment. Her office also shared a press release announcing a partnership with homeless service providers where they would hold watch parties and open 90 additional beds during the NBA All-Star Game.

The press release did not mention the 2nd and 2nd Coalition. 

Mendenhall’s office also released the following statement: 

“We were part of a broader coalition led by the state and county that had discussions with a number of providers (at their request) regarding All-Star weekend. This often happens when concerns are raised about potential displacement of unsheltered individuals due to an influx of crowds during a major event.” 

Watch parties for the unhoused will be happening at the following places during the All-Star Weekend:

  • Gallivan Center, hosted by the Downtown Alliance and open to all on Friday, Saturday and Sunday 
  • Weigand Homeless Resource Day Center hosted by Catholic Community Services on Sunday 
  • The Rescue Mission hosted by The Rescue Mission and open all day on Sunday 

Ninety additional beds will also be available at the Central City Recreation Center from noon Sunday until 10 a.m. Monday.