Poll: Utahns Want to Move Homeless Shelters Away from Downtown Salt Lake City

SLC Homeless ShelterMore than two-thirds of Utahns want to spread out the Westside Salt Lake City homeless shelters and services to areas along the Wasatch Front, a poll by UtahPolicy finds.

A fifth of Utahns says no, the homeless shelters and service providers need to stay mostly where they are, located in the blocks just south of the city’s Gateway Center, finds pollster Dan Jones & Associates.

Two special commissions recommend last Fall that the shelters be further specialized by clients’ needs, and spread out to different areas along the Wasatch Front, certainly outside of their current areas.

And the current Utah Legislature is considering donating more than $20 million towards homeless aide.

Jones finds that there are large majorities for the move from across the demographic spectrum:

— 71 percent of all Utahns want the homeless shelters to move; 20 percent oppose, and 8 percent don’t know.

— Republicans favor the move, 69-21 percent.

— Democrats like it, 79-13 percent.

— Political independents support the move, 73-20 percent.

— Those who tell Jones they are “very conservative” politically like it, 63-13 percent.

Salt Lake City is headquarters of the LDS Church.

And there have been complaints recently that there are too many homeless people downtown and some aggressive panhandling by those who profess to be homeless, but in fact, may be asking for cash as part of their “job,” if you will.

LDS Church leaders have asked for understanding and mercy for those who find themselves for various reasons homeless or are struggling with mental illness and other personal problems.

Jones finds that 70 percent of those who classified themselves as “very active” Mormons want some of the shelters moved. Twenty-two percent of very active Mormons are against moving the homeless shelters.

The Catholic Church runs one of the homeless shelters, as part of its caring for the less fortunate among us.

Jones finds that Catholics favor moving the homeless shelters/services, 68-24 percent.

Protestants favor the move, 69-19 percent.

And those who said they have no religion support moving the shelters, 77-17 percent.

Jones polled 622 adults statewide from Dec. 8-14; the margin of error is 3.93 percent.