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SLC Mayor signs lease agreement, closing part of Rio Grande St. to benefit homeless

Salt Lake City police officers tear down a cardboard wall in the Rio Grande neighborhood.

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski signed a lease agreement Thursday to temporarily close part of Rio Grande St. to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The lease, an agreement between Salt Lake City and the State of Utah, allows the state to close Rio Grande St. between 200 S and the property boundaries of The Road Home and Catholic Community Services, a statement from the Mayor’s Office said.

The closure will allow for the creation of a space that will benefit the homeless.

“The residents of Salt Lake City have been clear they want to be involved as we move forward with plans to address homelessness in our community,” Mayor Biskupski said in a statement released Thursday. “The survey and our dialogue last night showed the public is supportive of the closure, but had some questions on the implementation, many of which were addressed last night.”

The lease lasts through November 30, and it could be extended through January 1, 2020, pending the results of a Public Benefits Hearing, approval by the Salt Lake City Council and clarification of Utah Code.

The closure is part of Operation Rio Grande, an initiative involving multiple agencies to provide more services to the homeless and address crime the Rio Grande area.

“Salt Lake City, particularly the Rio Grande area, is where individuals have long gone to find help in their most desperate times,” said Mayor Biskupski in the statement. “We have a responsibility to keep the area safe for them, and to ensure we have the appropriate resources available, including treatment beds for those with substance use disorder.”