A collection of state, county and city officials who came up with the campaign on crime and homelessness centered in downtown Salt Lake City met Tuesday to recap the successes they’ve had so far in improving conditions around the 1,100-bed shelter in the Rio Grande district.
They’ve rapidly increased the number of drug treatment beds available, which has helped people like Amy Daeschel, who said Tuesday she was homeless and helplessly addicted to heroin before she was arrested within two weeks of Operation Rio Grande. She is now clean and on track to graduate from drug court this October.
The officials who planned and launched the two-year operation say the millions spent on policing and other services have led to an average of five fewer days spent in shelter for a homeless Utahn, from 48.5 days in 2017 to 43.5 days this year. There has been a dramatic decrease in crime in the Rio Grande neighborhood and across Salt Lake City.
But issues have spread from the core of downtown into surrounding neighborhoods, and officials vowed to focus on stopping that dispersement during the second year of the operation. They will also continue work to find jobs for people working to get out of homelessness. A major issue that needs to be addressed remains a lack of low-income housing in all parts of the city, county and state.