Letter: We are only creating a new mess

First Published      Last Updated Mar 20 2017 05:54 am

Why spend tens of millions of dollars to make our homeless shelter system smaller and kick more people out onto the street? The plan recently passed by the Utah Legislature calls for two shelters in Salt Lake City and one elsewhere in Salt Lake County, totaling 700 beds. This would replace the existing shelter capacity of 1,100 beds. If the new "resource centers" are too crowded to function, we've only created a new mess and we will still have people on the street downtown.

If a shelter is built in South Salt Lake or West Valley City without continuing to provide adequate shelter downtown, we will have set everyone up to fail. Why build a 300-bed shelter miles away when the existing shelter is needed and yet set to close at an arbitrary date? If federal cuts to housing come to pass, cities everywhere will have even fewer resources and the number of homeless people will grow.

If we don't maintain capacity, then this is just a land grab in downtown Salt Lake City. Why should any community welcome a new shelter when the existing shelter cannot be maintained as part of the solution? The Road Home shelter should be less crowded and the crime situation should be addressed, but we should demand that it stay where it is as long as needed. Prove the new model works before arbitrarily closing current facilities and leaving places like South Salt Lake holding the bag.

Glenn Bailey

Salt Lake City