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Commission Favors Scattered Housing for Homeless

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Salt Lake City
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The commission tasked with recommending where emergency services for the homeless should go gave the public a glimpse of three possible scenarios last night.  Members of the commission say there’s interest in spreading some services out and away from the beleaguered Depot District corridor.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission rounded out ten months of research by unveiling these possible configurations: one large, all-inclusive campus, facilities spread throughout the community, or a kind of combination of the two, where shelters are scattered, but supportive services remain in a central location.

“It needs to be something that a neighborhood can live with and not be overpowered by,” says Palmer Depaulis. He’s co-chair of the commission. He was also Mayor of Salt Lake City from 1985 to 1991. Depaulis says the complexity of the issue has grown since he worked to consolidate the facilities a quarter century ago. Now, he says the centralized model is no longer working.

“People can only heal in community. You can’t heal in isolation,” Depaulis says.

Laurie Robinson worked for homeless service providers in the past. She says she doesn’t care where services are located as long as services are being improved and more affordable housing is being made available.

“There’s pressure to try and alleviate the visualization of homelessness, but trying to displace the homeless population because it’s an ugly situation and it’s not an easy answer, isn’t going to help any of those people,” Robinson says.

The commission will meet Monday to make a recommendation to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, the Salt Lake City Council and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. 

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