Turner Bitton and Erik Lopez: Other Side Village to offer a community for homeless

Village is not just a collection of tiny homes, but an entire supportive community.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mayor Erin Mendenhall talks about the status of her goal to have a tiny home pilot in place this winter during a news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 29, 2021. At rear is a conceptual drawing.

Recently, the Salt Lake City Planning Commission approved a rezone of land on the border of the Poplar Grove and Glendale neighborhoods for the development of The Other Side Village. This land is slated to become an innovative and impactful symbol of our community’s commitment to ending homelessness.

The Other Side Village is a master-planned neighborhood designed to create a permanent welcoming community for the many unsheltered people currently living in parks, public spaces and along the Jordan River. We’re writing today to encourage the Salt Lake City Council to join us in supporting this critical resource in our community.

The Other Side Village belongs in our community because Glendale and Poplar Grove have long been a gateway to welcoming in Salt Lake City. Our neighborhoods share a legacy as a place where people from all over the world have found a home, started families and found connection in their neighbors. The historic affordability, number of families and quality schools of our neighborhoods have made the West Side a healthy, accessible community to people of all backgrounds.

The future residents of TOSV share much in common with many of the families that have found their homes here. There is a place for everyone in Glendale and Poplar Grove and The Other Side Village belongs here.

Our community is home to the International Peace Gardens and the Jordan River Peace Labyrinth, both of which stand as physical representations of our community’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. In the same vein, The Other Side Village will stand as a working, actionable symbol of those values, an investment in a community that includes all people and promotes a high quality of life.

When completed, The Other Side Village will provide more than just shelter to future residents, but also be an important gathering space for all members of the community. New amenities like sports courts, space for community performances, a nondenominational chapel and beautiful green spaces will revitalize a currently underutilized area and serve as an inviting area for all members of our community. And the inclusion of an affordable grocery store will help address the historic lack of access to nutritious food options our community has faced.

We not only support building The Other Side Village in our community, but we’re also committed to making sure the Village succeeds. The residents of Glendale and Poplar Grove know the importance of creating space for everyone who is willing to contribute to the success of our community. Salt Lake City can lead the nation with innovative solutions like The Other Side Village. Now is the time and Glendale and Poplar Grove are the place.

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Turner Bitton

Turner Bitton is chair of the Glendale Neighborhood Council.

Erik Lopez Chair, Poplar Grove Community Council

Erik Lopez is the former chair of the Poplar Grove Community Council and Westside Coalition.