Political News

Utah's South Salt Lake seeks plan to prevent shelter crime

Posted 2:35 p.m. Tuesday

— South Salt Lake City leaders have started brainstorming ways to prevent potential crime and other problems they fear will come to their city because of a homeless shelter that Utah officials have decided to build despite local opposition.

South Salt Lake council members started touring local homeless shelters and rehabilitation facilities last week, seeking ideas to stem crime and the possibility of homeless people camping in the streets.

City officials want input into what the shelter will look like and how it will operate, said Councilwoman Portia Mila.

Construction on the new shelter in South Salt Lake City is expected to begin next year after a Utah committee approved it earlier this month, along with two other shelters for neighboring Salt Lake City. It's part of a plan to break up the concentration of homeless people in downtown Salt Lake City.

The city's main homeless shelter is overcrowded and is seen as the cause of drug dealing markets and other problems for downtown businesses.

Numerous South Salt Lake city officials said the shelter for their city near the Salt Lake County Jail and Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office would overburden the city and hurt efforts to promote economic growth.

Mila and Councilwoman Sharla Beverly recently visited a two-year rehabilitation program in Salt Lake City called The Other Side Academy, where former inmates, drug addicts and homeless people learn work at the school's lawn care, food truck, window cleaning or furniture moving companies.

But Mila said she is worried that the school's plan may not work for the new shelter, which would hold about five times as many people as the roughly 60-person rehabilitation academy.

Some of the estimated 300 people staying at South Salt Lake shelter will want programs like those offered at the rehabilitation academy and make a change in their lives, others may not and will only stay at the shelter for a short period of time, Mila said.

Mila told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/2ok3nmB) that council members also plan to visit a homeless shelter tucked in Salt Lake City's suburb of Midvale that serves homeless families with children.

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