New poll reveals how Utahns feel about Operation Rio Grande; 45% of those surveyed haven’t seen any improvement

SALT LAKE CITY – A new poll shows how Salt Lake City residents feel about Operation Rio Grande.

The poll, from Utah Policy, revealed 45 percent of those surveyed believe the homeless situation hasn’t really changed. Only 26 percent said the situation is better and 24 percent said it’s worse. Five percent don’t know.

State and city leaders launched Operation Rio Grande over a year ago to clean up rampant crime and drugs in the area. Salt Lake City Police Detective Greg Wilking acknowledged there’s more work to be done.

“This isn't a quick fix. This is long-term,” he said.

Wilking said they’re making progress by reaching out to the homeless with social workers and connecting them with treatment, jobs and housing.

“When more services come on line, we'll have more options available for people and I think that will help,” Wilking said.

Meantime, some communities are feeling the impact.

“I'm concerned with my daughter. She's 9. She’s gonna go to the school down the road with people in the neighborhood who are homeless and have already broken into our home,” said a new Rose Park resident who did not want to be identified.

Neighbors told her the homeless situation is right at their doorstep.

“They said it was a lot of illegal activity. A lot of people just all over the place. Drug use. They've had to file several police reports themselves. It's kinda scary.”

Some residents agree Rio Grande needs revamping, but moving the problem to other areas is the wrong move.

Police say it’s important the community reach out to them to let them know where these camps are being set up.

“We can't fix the problem alone. We need the help of the community,” Wilking said.

Residents can voice their concerns to Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. She will be attending the Fairpark Community Council meeting Thursday, September 27th at 6:30 p.m. at Northwest Community Center, 1255 Clark Avenue, SLC 84116.