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South Salt Lake Journal

Local businesses brace for new Homeless Resource Center

Aug 05, 2019 10:42AM ● By Bill Hardesty

The view from the Jordan River Parkway of the new men’s Homeless Resource Center located at 3380 S. 1000 West. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

In six weeks or so, the men's Homeless Resource Center will be dedicated and open for business. For many, the HRC is a physical showing of the community's commitment to help the homeless. For others, concerns about the unknown still linger.

Brief history

As an outgrowth of Project Rio Grande, four HRCs were planned. At first, the plan was to build them all in Salt Lake City, but strong resident reactions moved them out of their neighborhoods. In March 2017, then-Mayor Ben McAdams announced that one of the HRCs would be built in South Salt Lake City at 3380 S. 1000 West. At the time, city officials fought back pointing out "more than 30% of the tax base in the city of 24,000 residents already is nontaxable because of the county service facilities it hosts." 

In that area is the Unified Fire headquarters, the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Unified Police departments, the Salt Lake County Jail, the Salt Lake Valley Youth Detention Center and the Oxbow Jail.

The HRC was finalized in April. In 2018, the state legislature provided funds to SSLC to mitigate the impact, including paying for 12 new police officers and 12 EMTs. In May 2018, phase one of the permit process, only covering site and building issues, was completed and ground was broken. 

In addition, the county bought 13 properties along 1000 West. A Deseret News story published in January 2019, stated "...the new building has more than completely changed what once was a tight-knit neighborhood.”

"It's just swallowed it up," Ryan Ringel [a former resident] said. "It's gone."

The county spent over $7 million for the properties, including $4.8 million in county funds and $2.2 million in state funds. For now, one renter remains on 1000 West.

What about businesses?

While property owners were able to take a buyout, businesses and apartments around the site were not. Their feelings are a mixed bag.

Pam Kelly, store manager of the Maverik station, located on 900 West and 3300 South, had experience with the homeless while working in Salt Lake and feels that "people need help. They need a second chance." She found homeless individuals to be respectful and feels that the Maverik corporation has put into place procedures to negate the situation such as hanging "no loitering" signs.

“Deuce” Ryan Roll, golf pro at Golf in the Round, on the north side of 3300 South, has no worries and has not heard any concern from customers. However, Christian Scott, the owner, has a more cautious approach. "We are waiting to see. I think having the course completely fenced helps. We might have to hire additional staff to patrol the golf course."

Other businesses, such as Pearson Tires and Salt Lake Valley GMC, have a "wait and see" attitude. They expect issues and will react as needed.

Employees at Bedrosians Tile & Stone, 3280 West 900 South, tell a different story. They already have experienced problems like urination on the building and vandalism. As a result, they are contemplating some landscaping changes to mitigate the situation. They fear the problems will only get worse.

The Sun River apartments on the north side of 3300 South, looking directly at the HRC, are already receiving 30-day notices from concerned residents.

Phase two

Phase two of the conditional use permit is now before the Planning Commission and still needs to be approved. In a planning commission work meeting on June 20, the commissioners worked through a draft of a long and detailed permit. The planning commission did not meet in July and the schedule for their Aug. 1 meeting, at press deadline, does not include this subject. 

Since the permit is still a draft, it is not public, and the video recording of the meeting has yet to be posted on the city's page.

Phase two of the conditional use permit focuses on operating the HRC. While much is still in flux, some details are available.

The HRC is owned by Sheltering the Homeless, a nonprofit backed by the L.H. Miller family, and will be operated by The Road Home organization, a nonprofit that operates two shelters: a family shelter in Midvale and the soon-to-be closed Road Home facility at 210 S. Rio Grande Street in Salt Lake City.

The facility will house up to 300 men. There are no plans to increase that number on a regular basis or in an emergency. No walk-ins will be accepted, and no non-current resident services will be available.

Residents will only be accepted through a Coordinated Entry System. According to Sheltering the Homeless website, the system "will help people experiencing homelessness access temporary shelter (lodging) placement/diversion, homeless-specific resources, and housing services in a much more coordinated, efficient way." Individuals needing the HRC will be transported to the facility and if need be, returned to their entry point.

Residents will have ID cards and must sign a Code of Conduct, which includes not using any illegal substances on the property or elsewhere.

While a private security company will be within the center, law enforcement patrols are planned in the surrounding areas to prevent loitering. 

Food will be prepared offsite and delivered to the site three times a day.

Residents are subject to unannounced searches including those by drug-sniffing dogs conducted by the South Salt Lake Police Department.