SLC residents, businesses see negative effects from new homeless center

SALT LAKE CITY — The Gail Miller Homeless Resource Center opened in the middle of September, and a nearby business owner says she has already seen a 30 percent drop in customers.

Michelle Goldberg owns Diggity Dog right across from the homeless center on Paramount Ave, just off 300 West.

For over four years, she’s overseen the boarding and daycare facility for dogs.

“There has been a lot of drug activity,” Goldberg says of her new neighbors.

When 140 men and 60 women moved in, she says, so did the problems.

“[I would] literally walk across the street and [say], “Don’t talk, just leave my customers alone,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg said her customers were being harassed by panhandlers. A window was broken in the first week. Someone tried to climb her fence. People even performed sexual acts behind the dumpster. Employees quit because they didn’t feel safe.

“At one point, I was so short-staffed… I actually told my customers I had to close the business,” Goldberg said.

“Three or four days a week there's either a cop or ambulance presence here in this parking lot,” said Logan Whittmore, who lives down the street.

“I have a 6-year-old and the biggest thing I worry about is drugs and potentially needles being on the sidewalk. We stay in our yard and make sure we are safe,” Whittmore said.

Problems are to be expected, according to the Shelter The Homeless Executive Director Preston Cochrane.

“I’d say it’s a new normal. Obviously anytime you build something new, a new facility, there are to be growing pains with that,” Cochrane said.

Cochrane said Shelter the Homeless is working to help to alleviate the problems. Goldberg argues the only support she gets is from law enforcement.

“I feel really left out, flying in the wind by myself,” Goldberg said.

The open house for the men's shelter on 3380 South 1000 West in South Salt Lake is November 5.

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