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As Salt Lake City’s Tiny Home Project Moves Ahead, Some Community Members Worry It Will Isolate Unsheltered People

Courtesy of The Other Side Village
The tiny homes project, The Other Side Village, will have more than 400 units. Joseph Grenny, board chair of The Other Side Academy, said they intend to release an updated master plan next week.

Salt Lake City recently announced the proposed location for a new tiny home community for unsheltered people.

The 443-unit village, which is a collaboration between the city and The Other Side Academy, is planned for the west side of Salt Lake City.

The parcel of land is near I-215 and is also adjacent to a former landfill. Joseph Grenny, board chair of The Other Side Academy, said soil tests have shown the land where the village will be isn’t contaminated.

He said they picked this location because it’s close to downtown and spacious.

“That gives us not just an opportunity to build out the village, but to surround it in a green scape that will make it a really pretty special place,” Grenny said.

As the project moves through its planning process, some community members argue the village isn’t the ideal solution for addressing the city’s homelessness problem.

Sandra Luo is an incoming University of Utah student studying city planning and public policy.

She said shuffling people from their current living situations to the new tiny home project could make them feel isolated.

“It seems like the tiny home village is not taking into consideration the community that our unsheltered community members already have, that they have built with organizations and people who do outreach work,” Luo said.

She said it’s important to think about how the project will be integrated into the larger community.

“You're just basically isolating a group of people with very real problems and putting them out of sight, out of mind,” she said.

Grenny said they hope to turn the village into a place where people from other neighborhoods want to visit as well. He said there will be amenities like a performance space, a farmers market and a cafe.

“People won't just be coming out to serve breakfast to a bunch of people that they have pity for,” he said. “They'll be coming out because it's a vibrant, wonderful place for people to build relationships.”

The land still needs to be rezoned before development can begin there. Grenny said they encourage public input on the project and they hope to break ground early next year.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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