Camp Last Hope Closes As Activist And Salt Lake City Officials Come To The Table Together
Camp Last Hope sits under an overpass on the west side of Salt Lake City. It formed last December, after the local government shut down other homeless encampments in the area.
At its height, the campsite was home to around 200 people. There were rows of tents, a makeshift closet filled with clothes and a stove for residents to make coffee.
But by Wednesday night, Salt Lake City’s largest homeless campus will likely be empty.
Ty Bellamy is the organizer and an activist with the Black Lives for Humanity Movement. She recently started working with the mayor’s office to safely close the campus and connect residents with resources.
“[The mayor’s office has] reached out to us to see what they could do to make this an amicable, peaceful transition from Camp Last Hope to either rehab, detox or shelters,” Bellamy said. “Some of [the residents] will be able to get into hotels with vouchers.”
Weston Clark, director of community outreach for Salt Lake City, has been part of the conversation with Bellamy.
Clark acknowledges government officials and community members have butted heads over how to respond to the issue of homelessness.
“I think the tension comes from a space of just having different ways of trying to get to the same solution,” he said. “We want to find shelter. We want to find resources and services for these individuals who are experiencing homelessness.”
He said the city’s new relationship with Bellamy and potentially other community activists could lead to different solutions.
“We are hopeful that individuals who think they have a solution will take a moment to learn about the complexities involved with homelessness and how to best serve those individuals,” he said. “I think we are open and flexible and really want to be creative about where we go from here.”
Bellamy wants the city to approach the issue differently, too.
“I think their responsibility now is to realize that what they've done repeatedly has not worked,” she said. “None of these abatements have been successful. And so their responsibility is to try something new.”
There is a camp cleanup scheduled for Thursday by the Salt Lake County Health Department and city officials.
But Bellamy said, by the time that happens, it will be like Camp Last Hope was never there.