Salt Lake City Continues Efforts to Reduce Homelessness, Crime

Aug 12, 2014

Salt Lake City officials have outlined a number of new efforts to combat homelessness and crime in the downtown area recently. In addition to Salt Lake City’s new Metro Support Bureau, the city is trying to making more housing available to those who need it most.

The new Metro Support Bureau is located at The Gateway Mall, about a block from Pioneer Park.  Officers there have arrested more than 400 criminals in the area since it was created in early July. But Chief Burbank says arrests alone will not solve the problems that plague the neighborhood.

“If we are beating everything in the area with the police stick, which is simply jail, then we are doing a disservice to this community and all members of our society,” Burbank says.

City officials say, in the next 18 months, they want to house 20 of the top users of homeless services and build 300 new housing units for the homeless, which is in line with the state’s housing first initiative.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker noted there might be a need to rezone areas of the city to accommodate homeless service providers outside the depot district. That’s an idea Salt Lake City Councilor Luke Garrott supports. 

“When they’re not concentrated, they’re not nuisance uses,” Garrett says. “They can be in neighborhoods, without, there goes the neighborhood, and everyone is up in arms because their property values are going to be lowered. It doesn’t have to happen at all.”

Recently, the city was able to expand services at Weigand Homeless Day center to give more people somewhere to go during the day.