Salt Lake City and County Join Forces on Homelessness Plan

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker announced a plan and a strategy to minimize homelessness has unanimous support from stakeholders on two working groups that have been meeting for the past year. 

The agreement includes a plan to get more impact from the current providers in the system that deliver a variety of services to the homeless. It proposes to establish smaller shelters to serve distinct populations, such as families with children, and the working homeless.

Mayor McAdams said that the 31 providers who participated in the county’s working group have united behind 14 outcomes that they will pursue, including diverting individuals and families from emergency shelter whenever possible and meeting the basic needs of those in crisis.

As of today’s joint meeting, those outcomes have been adopted by participants in Mayor Becker’s working group. The outcomes determine what homeless shelter facilities will look like and how they will be distributed. The city’s Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission—co-chaired by Palmer DePaulis and Gail Miller—announced that of several scenarios evaluated, the so-called “scattered site scenario” is the best option to achieve both groups’ goals.

Mayor McAdams said that Governor Herbert and the Utah legislature will be asked for money to help establish several new, smaller emergency shelters. The plan recognizes that a single, large, “one-size-fits-all” model isn’t the best model to aid homeless populations in exiting emergency shelter quickly and returning to a stable environment. New shelters could be designed for families with children, single men and single women.

McAdams said the legislative ask will also include help with a plan to divert people from emergency shelters and prevent homelessness through the use of short-term rental assistance in the private housing market. McAdams said the total amount requested is approximately $20 million in one time public funds as well as $7 million in ongoing funds, and another $10 million in private investment.

All sides agree that they believe these actions will result in reductions, over time, in the percentage of homeless families and individuals, despite the projected population growth along the Wasatch Front. An important aspect of the plan includes four outcomes designed to focus on homelessness prevention, including meeting the housing supply needs of residents and ensuring that children and teens do not experience homelessness.

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