‘Sick from the heat’: SLC street campers swelter without air conditioning during heatwave

Utah Heat

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Some residents of Utah’s capital city are suffering through the heatwave without air conditioning or even running water because they’re living in cars and campers parked on public streets.

Dozens of RVs, vans, and tents line Decade Drive on Salt Lake City’s west side, where some people have been living for weeks.

Cliff Anderson told ABC4 that he was evicted from his Magna apartment. Now, he and his three cats live in his van with no air conditioning or plumbing.

“There is a well over by the mobile homes over there,” Anderson said. “There’s a spring so you can get water out of it. I don’t know if it’s potable water, but water and the only thing that’s lacking in shade. You’ve got to keep yourself cool.”

A few miles east in the Glendale neighborhood, ABC4 met Michael and Bear, who have recently been living in a minivan parked on 1700 South.

“I’m 64 years old and it’s kind of hard with no air conditioning and no shade and then the heat gets up in the triple digits, it gets really bad on us,” Michael said. “I got high blood pressure and COPD too, so it makes it hard on my lungs. It makes it hard for us to get anywhere. We can’t get anything cold to drink because it’s either way up there on Redwood Road or way down here on 9th West.”

Michael said his plan was to sell the minivan’s catalytic converter and use the money for an air-conditioned hotel room, but someone stole it. To make matters worse, the sweltering temperatures have sent both he and Bear to the emergency room.

“He got sick from the heat,” Michael said. “They said it was a form of heatstroke for animals because he was pooping blood and throwing up a little bit of blood, I had to take him to the emergency room for dogs…It was just a little minor heatstroke, to try to keep him out of the heat, keep him with fluids.”

Michael says Bear is doing much better now, but with their recent setbacks, he doesn’t know where they’ll go from here.

Salt Lake City is aware of the problem of street camping. On Friday, a spokesperson from the Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s office sent ABC4 a statement calling it a “unique challenge”.

It reads in part: “While the City does issue a notice to these vehicles, ultimately it cannot impound ones that are occupied. Instead, we prioritize these cases with the City’s Homeless Engagement and Response Team for outreach and attempt to engage the occupants with available resources that aim to help them make the journey into permanent housing.”

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