Derek Miller: Utah’s business community needs elected officials committed to addressing homelessness

A unified approach by local and state governments, along with meaningful collaboration with the private sector, is the only way forward.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City is not allowing unsheltered people to sleep in tents, so blanket are used to shelter from the cold, on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.

Utah’s business community stands united in its call for elected officials to address the complex issue of homelessness. This challenge demands collective attention, and it is clear that finding a sustainable solution requires a collaborative and balanced approach.

In Utah, we take pride in our collaborative spirit, often referred to as the “Utah Way.” Nowhere is this spirit more needed than in addressing homelessness in communities across the state. A unified approach by local and state governments, along with meaningful collaboration with the private sector, is the only way forward. Those seeking elected office as community and state leaders must indeed lead a coalition to a successful solution.

Compassion and humanitarian values must guide our actions. Enforcement is a necessary component of any truly compassionate strategy. Without effective enforcement, all the homeless resources in the world cannot lead to real change. Beware those who claim that compassion and enforcement are mutually exclusive. Leaving people to live on the streets or encampments is the worst thing we can do for those in need. Our homeless brothers and sisters need our help, not vacuous do-nothing sloganeering.

Whoever is victorious in the upcoming Salt Lake City mayoral election must also understand that leaving people to live on the streets is the worst thing that can be done for all residents. The state’s capital city needs a mayor who will provide homeless services and enforce laws in a way that uplifts individuals, increases public safety and protects business owners and customers.

We urge Salt Lake City residents to study the issue and vote for the candidate they believe is the best positioned and most committed to making homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring, and creating an environment where individuals and families feel safe and have the opportunity for increased self-sufficiency and prosperity.

The business community will continue to advocate for increasing stable housing, improving access to support services, preventing homelessness through early intervention and enforcement of public safety laws, strengthening collaboration among stakeholders and continually measuring progress. This approach ensures that we support the most vulnerable among us while nurturing the economic vitality that sets our community apart. By striking this balance, we can create a brighter future for all, where compassion and economic strength go hand in hand.

Derek Miller

Derek Miller is the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.

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