Homelessness is a devastating circumstance for many people and deserves the time and attention of our city government. Assessment-based solutions require a focused effort by all responsible parties along the Wasatch Front and the Utah Legislature. Salt Lake City is home to the majority of service providers for the homeless and Salt Lake City can’t simply cede the responsibility to the county. We must lead the way in resolving this issue.
As mayor, I will work collaboratively with the state, the counties along the Wasatch Front, the Pioneer Park Coalition, the mayor’s relocation commission, and the service organizations to create a strategic plan. This plan must work from measurable outcomes and provide immediate assessment of needs, short-term shelter and housing solutions, as well as intensive case management with two years of follow-up care.
We must break-up the homeless population to create a safer environment for families and women. We must also provide treatment, resources and life skills, based on needs, to help as many people as possible move toward independence. We will implement a 2-year follow-up program to ensure successful transition out of homelessness.
Rooting out the criminal element
Our public safety model has not been successful. Crime is up and I have witnessed testimony all over the city from residents regarding the lack of presence of law enforcement officers in our neighborhoods and the failures of our downtown approach.
One woman stated she moved here from the Bronx, that it was not until she lived here that her home was broken into, twice. We have had individuals assault people near the shelter with pipes, guns and knives.
Moving more uniformed officers out of our neighborhoods and into the downtown area has failed us all. Our law enforcement agency is doing the best they can with limited resources and staffing. However, we will not solve the issue of crime by focusing solely on one area of the city. The crackdown in the Rio Grande neighborhood is pushing crime into other neighborhoods. Burglary, larceny and theft are all up in our neighborhoods. I hear daily from residents in the Sugar House, Capitol Hill and Marmalade neighborhoods. There is a significant increase in drug trafficking at Fairmont and Sugar House Parks. Dealers from the Pioneer Park area are taking TRAX and the S-Line into those neighborhoods and little is being done to address this issue.
We cannot arrest our way out of homelessness. We must:
● Create a multi-agency task force to share information among our Wasatch Front agencies to better track criminals and criminal activity.
● Implement a long-term, strategic, undercover operation to uncover where the drugs are coming from and eliminate the supply chain.
● Redeploy police officers into neighborhoods and create a more visible downtown presence.
Providing a holistic solution
By partnering with state, county, neighboring municipal governments, nonprofit organizations, philanthropic entities, and businesses, we can provide a holistic solution for our most vulnerable residents.
Service organizations located in the Rio Grande area should remain but by working with Wasatch Front municipalities on additional smaller shelters, we can share the responsibility for care without disproportionately burdening one neighborhood or community. All facilities should be built along our transit corridor to ensure accessibility.
Preemptive counseling and services
Let’s work to help people before they become homeless. Once a home or apartment is lost and person or family becomes homeless, they fall into situation that is difficult to overcome.
● Provide additional resources through public/private partnerships, to organizations who provide crisis intervention
● Publicize and promote programs to increase public awareness of preventive options.
Once homelessness occurs, it is crucial that assistance is provided immediately. It must be a holistic solution and cannot be one-size-fits-all.
● Assessment--when a person or family presents as homeless, there needs to be an immediate needs assessment by trained clinical case manager.
● Sheltering--immediate sheltering is essential.
○ we must have separate shelter solutions for families, males, and females. Their needs are unique and separate, smaller sheltering solutions will allow for better service administration, safer sheltering, and reduction of criminal issues.
● Access to Services--we need to significantly expand access to services, including:
○ Drug Addiction Treatment
○ Mental Illness Treatment
○ Skills Training
○ Financial counseling
● Job Services
○ Partner with our cities non-profits for employment that can provide flexibility not found in traditional employment
● Low-Income Housing--Housing must be part of a larger policy, not just a project.
○ incentives for builders who will allocate a percentage of their housing for low income residents.
○ reviewing the feasibility of establishing Inclusionary Zoning Areas around primary transit lines. This type of zoning requires a share of all new housing to be set aside for both affordable and low-income tenants. With this, in addition to the incentives I am proposing for other new buildings, I believe we can bridge the gap we currently face in low income and affordable housing.
○ Implement recommendations through inclusionary zoning and incentives to increase housing opportunities for our lowest income residents, creating better alternatives to living on the streets.
● 2-Year Case Management & Crisis Intervention
Addressing the Affordable Housing Shortage
We must ensure that anyone, regardless of income, can find affordable housing in Salt Lake City. People are being priced out of the city--from recent graduates, to newly married couples, to our senior citizens. Even middle-aged middle-income workers are finding it difficult to keep with the high cost of city living.
Families who pay more than 30% of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities like food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter or homeowner families now pay more than 50% for housing.
The 5,000 doors initiative is too little, too late. We currently have an affordable housing shortage of over 8,000 units and the 5,000 doors initiative creates only a few hundred new units. As mayor I will create a special commission to develop plans for filling all our housing needs in Salt Lake City, and it won’t be a commission that studies and plans for months on end and then the final proposal is set aside to collect dust. I want a viable plan on my desk within my first 100 days that identifies how the public and private sector can work together to solve Salt Lake’s affordable housing crisis and demands for other housing opportunities that do not exist today.
● Implement recommendations through zoning and incentives to create more family friendly housing options and amenities for those who are choosing more urban lifestyles
● We will take a city-wide approach and provide affordable solutions in all our neighborhoods. The diversity of our population is a critical element to a healthy, vital city.
In addition to existing, traditional low-income housing, we will look at a variety of housing options including:
● Incentives for building low-income and mixed-use housing that retains a minimum number of low-income and affordable units.
● Expanding ordinances governing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) to allow for more mother-in-law style apartments to be built of modified in existing homes, creating lower-cost rentals for young couples, singles, and seniorswhie providing additional income to the home owners.
● Changing ordinances to allow Tiny houses. Many cities are revising ordinances to allow tiny houses to be built--houses that are typically 400 square feet or less. We will study this option and assess its viability.
● Working with the legislature on revisions to the Good Landlord Program that will remove key obstacles to obtaining and retaining housing.
● Conducting a thorough review of all landlord ordinances with revisions where needed and enforcement.