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South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood gives statement on possible homeless shelters

See below for the full statement from South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood regarding a recent proposal to put homeless resource centers in her city:

Dear South Salt Lake Residents and Friends,

I am as dismayed as you are to hear that Salt Lake County was considering our South Salt Lake community as the future home of a 300-bed homeless shelter—all part of the plan to replace the Rio Grande neighborhood shelter in Salt Lake City. While we all know that there needs to be a compassionate and effective solution put into place for homeless individuals throughout the Salt Lake Valley, I am steadfast in the belief that South Salt Lake is not the best fit for a new shelter.

Despite being the second smallest city in the county, we bear the social responsibility of several other residential resources for homeless residents—Grace Mary Manor, Christmas Box House and the Salt Lake County Homeless Youth Walk-In Center are all located within our boundaries. In addition to providing these important resources within city boundaries, South Salt Lake is also the home to two Salt Lake County detention centers—Oxbow Jail and Metro Jail—and the Salt Lake County Division of Youth Services and the Juvenile Justice Center.

We are proud to carry our fair share of the civic responsibility load, but it’s important to note that none of the above sites are subject to property taxes, yet they do depend on our public services—and South Salt Lake already has a much smaller tax base than West Valley City, which is the only other city in the county to host proposed sites. To put it simply: South Salt Lake does not have the resources to support the wide range of services required for such a large shelter.

Finally, and most importantly, I do not believe that these proposed sites are in the best interest of the South Salt Lake community. The proposed Main Street site is only a few blocks from an elementary school, a junior high school, Head Start and a South Salt Lake Community Center that hosts an after school program. While the proposed 3300 South site is located farther away from schools, I believe it is too far away from grocery stores, accessible transit, jobs, healthcare and other resources to be beneficial for residents of the shelter. It is, however, located two blocks from the County Metro Jail, making the possibility of an uptick of criminal activity very likely.

I am eager to be included in any discussion with Salt Lake County Ben McAdams and others about the best way to serve Salt Lake County’s homeless population—but I will never support a shelter in South Salt Lake for the reasons outlined above. I want you to know that I have heard you, South Salt Lake, as you have called my office to express your feelings about this new shelter proposal and the now-abandoned Sugarhouse site.

I need your help. Salt Lake County is accepting public input on these shelters, and it’s essential that South Salt Lake residents stand up to be heard—and quickly, because the site will be picked by the end of this month. There is an Open House hosted by the county this Tuesday, and more to come. You can find out more information about the proposed sites, upcoming open houses and submit citizen feedback at this website: https://www.homelessfacilitysite.org/

South Salt Lake is a compassionate and kind community—but we know these proposed shelter sites do not serve either the homeless population or our South Salt Lake residents.

I believe both deserve more. And I will fight for you.