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County Council Members Push Back On Homeless Shelter Decision Process

Whittney Evans

Salt Lake County Council members challenged County Mayor Ben McAdams Tuesday on the transparency of the process for deciding what homeless populations will occupy the new proposed shelters.

Following a presentation updating council members on homeless initiatives, Republican County Councilman Richard Snelgrove asked what the decision-making process was for deciding which shelter will house which gender. Last week, Shelter The Homeless, the non-profit that will oversee the county’s three new shelters, announced that men will be housed in the South Salt Lake shelter. Shaleane Gee, who heads up homelessness efforts at the county said there was no formal vote taken.

“But there have been many, many meetings and many, many conversations about what populations need to be served, what types of locations and services need to be present and especially thinking about single women and especially thinking about single men,” Gee said.

The answer didn’t satisfy Richard Snelgrove.

“I’m still troubled and I’m not hearing about a time and a place and a manner in which the decision is being made,” Snelgrove said.

Mayor Ben McAdams grew tense as Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton said she’d received questions from constituents that she doesn’t know how to answer.

“I think it’s really important as we go throughout this process to be very transparent on our process,” Newton said.

McAdams interrupted Newton.

“I’m going to push back on that,” he said. “Because this process has been incredibly transparent, and incredible work by a lot of people. We had 31 people here at the county, over seven public hearings engaging in public input and transparency so transparency is paramount.”

McAdams told the council that stakeholders “recommended” the decision to Shelter The Homeless after months of conversations.  

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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