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SLC Council Considers Legislation To Protect Neighborhoods From Impact Of New Shelters

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The Salt Lake City Council plans to pass ordinances to ensure that new homeless shelters will have minimal impact on their surrounding neighborhoods.

The council has asked Mayor Jackie Biskupski to select five potential homeless shelter locations by early October and a plan to address the potential impacts those shelters will have on their new neighborhoods by November. They also asked her to come up with a plan to address emergency shelter services this winter, calling it a crisis situation.

“That’s the key that we need to move forward,” says Councilman James Rogers. “So that we can have a good public process and outreach for neighborhoods and to actually hear their voice and their concerns and document it with true and hardcore data from residents of Salt Lake City so that we can discuss their impacts in the neighborhoods.”

All seven members of the council have made clear their concerns about a proposal to build two homeless shelters with 250 overnight beds each. They say that’s too large, and will have too big an impact on neighborhoods.  Mayor Jackie Biskupski says there’s more than a year of research to support that number.

Rogers says facing an impasse, the council has turned to policy and ordinances. They’re looking for legislative fixes that would require the facilities have buffers and be a specific distance from single-family homes. The council is also advocating separate services for single women, which Rogers says is feasible with smaller sites.

“I think that we are more mobile and nimble with the smaller sites than we are with the larger sites,” Rogers says. “Of course it’s going to cost more, but what are the impacts of having those large facilities in neighborhoods.”

Biskupski wasn’t available for comment, Wednesday but her spokesman Matthew Rojas says the mayor plans to adhere to council’s proposed timeline. He says she would like to see any additional city dollars go toward housing, rather than emergency shelters. 

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