I’m a big fan of protest and have participated in several this year. However, as a formerly homeless person who now advocates for people currently experiencing homelessness, and who played a small part in planning our new homeless resource centers, I must call out the protesters who disrupted Tuesday evening’s Salt Lake City Council meeting to demand The Road Home remain open.
My issue is that I didn’t recognize one of them from any of the boards and committees on which I’ve served, or from anywhere I’ve volunteered.
Where have they been while others educated themselves and got involved? Did they join numerous stakeholders and private citizens in developing a new, better way to serve our homeless neighbors? Are they aware of contingencies imposed by the Utah Legislature to receive funding for these efforts?
It’s my recollection that closing that shelter was one. Do they know the unfortunate resistance and unexpected delays overcome to finally get all the new centers open?
South Salt Lake Men’s Center was slated to open, and The Road Home close, in July, when weather would have been much warmer, and more time to address bed shortages would have been available. Have they heard that the continuing shortage of deeply affordable housing, the long wait to obtain it, the reluctance of banks to fund, of insurance companies to insure and developers to develop the needed housing slow down the process of getting individuals out of shelter and into permanent residences? If any of them I saw did, I missed it.
Civil disobedience is an important part of democracy and speaking truth to power. I feel that anyone protesting should be previously engaged and well-informed about all facts and ongoing efforts, and not just raising hell for the sake of hell-raising.
John Wilkes, Murray