Salt Lake Co hosts last homeless center open house

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- Salt Lake County hosted its last homeless center open house to get feedback on six proposed locations on Monday.

One location has to be picked by March 30th and submitted to the State Homeless Coordination Committee to be eligible for funding approved by the legislature.

"We want to separate some of the predators in homelessness from the people who are vulnerable," said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdam.

The county's choice will be in addition to two sites picked by Salt Lake City. The idea is to create more, smaller centers, specifically set up to serve certain populations. For example, one shelter could serve single women and another could serve families.

"There are a lot of people who are temporarily homeless, they'll be back employed and back in home in a very short period of time," said Mayor McAdam.

No one denies some people who are experiencing homelessness need short term help to get back on their feet. Equally undeniable, is the criminal element common in the area around the state's largest homeless shelter in the Rio Grande district in downtown Salt Lake City.

Six months ago, the area was the target of a series of raids by Salt Lake City police, leading to dozens of arrests.

"Our biggest fear is safety," said Steve Huseman at Monday's open house.

Huseman is the Director of Operations for The Brokerage Windows and Doors. The business is right next door to the site proposed at 3091 S. Main in South Salt Lake.

"We share a driveway with the proposed site," said Huseman.

His concern is not just for the safety of his staff and customers, but also the people using the shelter. The shared driveway frequently has delivery trucks going in and out of a busy Main Street.

The site on Main is one of six the county is considering. On Tuesday, the county site selection committee will meet. They will not take any further public comment and are expected to make their top pick at the meeting. By Thursday, they have to submit the pick to the State Homeless Coordination Committee to be eligible for funding approved but the legislature.