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Salt Lake City Council extends moratorium on new permanent homeless shelters

Geraldine King Women's Resource Center, Salt Lake City, March 23, 2022
Emily Means
/
KUER
The Geraldine E. King Women’s Center is a homeless resource center in Salt Lake City District 4, March 23, 2022.

The Salt Lake City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to extend a pause on new permanent homeless shelters within the city — potentially until May 2023.

The decision stems from a process Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall initiated last October.

Essentially, the ordinance temporarily removes homeless resource centers from the city’s allowed land uses. The plan is to use this time to update regulations related to shelters and consider expanding where they can be allowed.

Right now, homeless shelters are only permitted in certain zoning districts of the city. That leads to a concentration of resources in specific neighborhoods, which elected officials and some community members say isn’t equitable.

Salt Lake City Homeless Shelter permitted districts map. March 2022
Salt Lake City Planning Division
The zoning districts that currently allow homeless shelters are concentrated in certain areas of Salt Lake City.

During the public hearing Tuesday, Pastor Shawn Clay from the Salt Lake City Mission said the proposal ignores unsheltered people’s needs.

“We're not going to be able to close our eyes to the homeless, because they’re there,” Clay said. “It's a reality that no matter how big this city gets that we have to deal with, because they're suffering out there.”

Councilmember Victoria Petro-Eschler said the decision isn’t meant to punish anyone.

“I know the limits on the compassion fatigue that our neighbors who are in houses are starting to feel,” she said. “This is the best way to protect our constituents, both housed and unhoused. We're being asked to pause, come together and make decisions that are palatable and in the best interest of all of us.”

Current homeless resource centers will still be able to operate under the ordinance.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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