New homeless shelter sites could be picked by November

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SALT LAKE CITY — A commission tasked with picking new sites for homeless shelters said it hopes to have a pair of locations before the city council by November 1.

At a packed meeting on Tuesday, members of the Homeless Shelter Site Selection Commission outlined a process to select sites. Five potential shelter sites could be identified by September, with two months for public comment and input. Commission members said they hoped to present two locations to the Salt Lake City Council after that.

“All aspects of the homeless problem are important. We’ve come a long ways of this process. The goal of this commission is to find a homeless services site,” said commission chairwoman Gail Miller.

The Homeless Site Services Selection Commission meets on August 23, 2016.

The Homeless Site Services Selection Commission meets on August 23, 2016.

The shelters — which would be 250 beds each — will apparently be located in Salt Lake City, but resources including addiction services and affordable housing would be located across the state. It may eliminate the need for the Road Home shelter on Rio Grande Street, said David Litvack, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff.

“That is the ultimate goal along with changing the service system,” he said.

Frustrations were evident in the meeting, with many people complaining about the situation that exists right now on Rio Grande Street, with rampant drug use and crime. Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown reiterated that the majority of the troublemakers on the street are not the homeless who stay at the shelters, but people who prey upon them.

The chief also said winter might help alleviate some of the issues, by forcing people into the shelters and out of the cold.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said she was looking at addressing issues beyond finding a shelter, including more money for addiction services. She suggested approaching the legislature for more money.

“Every issue being brought up today is being addressed,” the mayor said.