(ABC4 Utah News) – The Salt Lake City Council was supposed to vote on a resolution approving the sites of four new Homeless Resource Centers announced earlier Tuesday but Mayor Jackie Biskupski was absent from the meeting because of a family emergency so the Council postponed the vote.
The mayor was present earlier in the day when she announced the four sites:
-275 West High Avenue
-131 East, 700 South
-648 West, 100 South
-653 East Simpson Avenue
“This site will be located at 653 East Simpson Avenue,” Mayor Biskupski said. “Approximately 700 East and 2300 South.”
Those words sent shockwaves through that Sugar House neighborhood. None of the residents ABC4 Utah News spoke with saw this coming.
The block currently houses Lit’l Scholars Learning Center, Dancing Crane Imports and Sherman Kendall Beauty Academy, all of which will apparently move to make way for the Resource Center.
Patricia Thomas lives right across the street.
“Well I didn’t have any idea until before now,” Thomas said. Thanks for telling me. Yeah. It kind of gives me some qualms…the problems like they’re having on Pioneer Park and stuff like that wouldn’t be very cool.”
There are dozens of single family homes located just to the south of the planned 150-bed facility. Homeowners are concerned about increased crime and drug activity and decreased property values.
“Home values go down,” Gary Isaacson said. ” There’s going to be a lot more homeless traffic. Yeah I’m not stoked to have to lock my stuff down even more than I already do.”
Ryan Stark says he owns a home two blocks away.
“As a citizen and a taxpaying citizen of the city we had no choice in the matter,” Stark said. “I think it’s just a bad spot. We’re moving one problem from the city right into people’s neighborhoods. This is a working class neighborhood. People are really taking care of their properties to move that problem in the middle of my neighborhood is unfortunate.”
Mayor Biskupski attempted to preemptively limit criticism of the sites while addressing reporters.
“We can either try to find reasons for this to not work and not be successful or we can find reasons to make sure it is successful,” Mayor Biskupski said. “I’m hoping that you who serve in the media will not be out running around looking for reasons for us to fail but to find good reasons for us to succeed.”
Stark had a different viewpoint.
“I wonder if the Mayor would like to put it in her neighborhood,” he asked.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017 with the centers scheduled to open in 2018. When all four open, The Road Home plans to close.
The City has not announced which sites will serve single men, single women and parents with children.