State Committee Approves South Salt Lake, Salt Lake City Homeless Site Recommendations

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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

FILE — Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams discusses the location he recommended for a third homeless resource center in South Salt Lake during a press conference at the Salt Lake County Government Center Council Chambers in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 31, 2017.

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite a final plea from city leaders and residents, state officials Monday finalized the Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake site recommendations for three new homeless resource centers.

The vote from the state’s Homeless Coordinating Committee approved Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdam’s proposal for an up-to-300-bed homeless facility at 3380 S. 1000 West in South Salt Lake, as well as Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s proposal to build two 200-bed facilities at 275 High Ave. and 131 E. 700 South.

The vote came after South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood made a last-ditch effort to persuade state leaders to reject McAdams’ recommendation.

“This is our last plea to make sure you understand the irreversible impacts this facility will have,” Wood said. “As the smallest city in the county, we are already overburdened with services our residents are forced to subsidize.”

The city of 24,000 hosts an array of tax-exempt social services, including two county jails, an 84-bed homeless facility called Grace Mary Manor, and a juvenile detention center. South Salt Lake’s tax base is 34 percent tax-exempt.

“I know you might feel my words ring hollow,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, the committee’s chairman, told residents of South Salt Lake. “But I want to promise you, you have my support and the support of (McAdams) to make sure we follow through on (our promises).”

Paired with the committee’s approval was also a vote supporting conditions in McAdams’ proposal that construction won’t begin at the South Salt Like site unless or until legislation is passed to provide financial support to fund the operations of the facility and offset its impacts in the community.

McAdams also pledged to work with the Salt Lake County Council to spur investment in economic development, parks, roads and the Jordan River Parkway in South Salt Lake to help grow the city’s tax base.

While acknowledging South Salt Lake’s resentment of the decision, Cox applauded residents for protesting the site recommendation in an honorable way.

“It’s very clear that no city wanted this resource center. That’s very obvious,” he said. “But I want to commend South Salt Lake. You opposed it the right way. I want to commend you for your humanity, for your kindness. You are not just a light to the rest of the state, but to our country as well.”

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Cox’s comments come after site proposals in Draper were protested during a raucous open house hosted by Salt Lake County, where more than 700 residents decried Mayor Troy Walker’s decision to volunteer two sites by screaming, booing and threatening lawsuits.

“While maybe not everyone has opposed this the right way,” Cox said, “we want you to know we are incredibly grateful for your graciousness and your willingness to work together with us.”

This story will be updated.