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McAdams Pitches New Plan For Simpson Avenue Shelter Site

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Whittney Evans
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Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams discusses the new homeless shelter model Wednesday with members of the Collective Impact Steering Committee.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is asking Salt Lake City to make the proposed homeless shelter/resource center in Sugar House housing instead of a shelter. He announced the proposal Wednesday during his monthly Collective Impact Steering Committee meeting. 

McAdams says the idea aligns with the one of steering committee’s primary goals. 

“Which is that we successfully divert individuals and families from emergency shelter wherever possible,” he says. “We’ve stated many times that shelter is not an ideal place for anyone. It’s a necessity often times. But it’s not the ideal.”

The county mayor suggests a combination of market-rate, low-income and deeply affordable units at the Simpson Avenue location. He pitched the idea to Mayor Biskupski on Monday. David Litvack, Biskupski’s deputy chief of staff says Biskupski needs to vet the proposal. 

“How does all of that work together?” Litvack asks. “How does the data play out in terms of the ability to serve individuals experiencing homelessness in the city?”

Both mayor’s share the goal of reducing the need for The Road Home shelter on Rio Grande. But they disagree on when. Some city officials would like a hard deadline for closing the 1100-bed shelter. McAdams wants to keep it open until it’s no longer needed.

Mayor Biskupski announced the locations for four separate shelter sites in December. The Simpson Avenue location has drawn the most ire from residents. 

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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