Biskupski Budgets For Additional Homeless Funding

May 3, 2017

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski unveiled her proposed budget Tuesday night for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The plan includes new money for homelessness and affordable housing.

Biskupski wants to set aside more than $2 million for homelessness, including $685,000 for Operation Diversion. That’s the program responsible for the periodic roundups law enforcement performed in the Rio Grande neighborhood last summer. Those arrested are given a choice of jail time or drug treatment.

“Efforts and funding from the State Sherriff will ensure we have the jail capacity to make it a continued success,” Biskupski says.

The drug treatment beds made available through Operation Diversion are at capacity and there are currently 115 people on a wait list. Biskupski’s budget would continue to fund those detox beds.

The budget also includes an additional $3 million for affordable housing. That’s on top of the $21 million the Salt Lake City Council, acting as the RDA board set aside last year. She’s convened a commission to study affordable housing options. 

“It is time that we get moving on some projects and we’ll be presenting some ideas around those projects this summer,” Biskupski says. 

Biskupski has also proposed an increase in ongoing funding for the emergency winter shelter at St. Vincent’s as well as winter motel vouchers. In the past, the city has used one-time money or emergency funding to pay for those items.

Salt Lake City Councilman Andrew Johnston is happy with the additional funding, but wants to see what the administration plans to do to address ongoing issues in the Rio Grande neighborhood before The Road Home shelter closes in 2019.

“We can put money into individual programs or ideas, but we really need a cohesive plan for the next couple of years,” Johnston says.

The Salt Lake City Council will spend the next few weeks digging into the details of Biskupski’s proposal. They’ll vote on a final budget in June.