In her second State of the City address, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski delivered a message about moving forward in tough and divided times.
Several protestors had gathered outside the Marmalade Library Tuesday night prior to Biskupski’s speech. They held signs to speak against the city’s choice to build a homeless resource center on Simpson Avenue in Sugar House.
But inside the new library, the mayor gave a speech that focused on moving forward. Biskupski said even though tensions are high over homeless shelter locations, residents shouldn’t forget what she called a humanitarian crisis in the city’s backyard.
“And now is the time to move forward,” the mayor said. “We will turn our attention to ensuring the centers we build are spaces of hope.”
Biskupski also spoke about plans to develop the northwest part of the city to attract jobs, and said a plan to bring more affordable housing to all parts of the city will be unveiled later this week.
“We are not simply focused on numbers, but in laying groundwork across the city to support and foster affordable housing. We will address the root causes of affordability,” she said.
Afterward, the mayor told reporters that her biggest regret of her first year in office was not communicating effectively to residents about the four planned homeless centers.
“We did not articulate the way we should have and could have,” she said, “to make sure that people understood that what will be coming to a neighborhood was something very different than a shelter.”
Biskupski said she understands why residents are upset about some shelter locations, but defended the decision to select the sites with the city council behind closed doors, saying it prevented tension between neighborhoods.