Salt Lake City officials say improvements to North Temple homeless camps may be slow, but they are happening

May 11, 2021, 7:27 AM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 12:15 pm
(Three members of the Downtown Ambassadors on patrol. Credit: Paul Nelson, file April 6, 2021)...
(Three members of the Downtown Ambassadors on patrol. Credit: Paul Nelson, file April 6, 2021)
(Three members of the Downtown Ambassadors on patrol. Credit: Paul Nelson, file April 6, 2021)

SALT LAKE CITY – Business owners say the crime, drugs and other issues connected to the homeless population are getting drastically worse along Salt Lake City’s North Temple street.  However, city officials are trying to assure everyone they’re doing the best they can, and they’re seeing positive results other people might not see. 

Officials with Salt Lake City understand business owners along North Temple are fed up, and they acknowledge why people feel the city’s efforts aren’t working. However, Michelle Hoon with the city’s Homeless Engagement and Response Team said change is coming.

She said, “I think that change is going to happen on North Temple. I definitely believe that it will, but it can take some time to get there.”

Utah has been going through a big increase in homelessness for a couple of years.  The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports our state had almost a 12 percent increase from 2019 to 2020.  Ending homelessness will take more than just clearing out encampments, Hoon said.  She believes you have to give people in these camps advanced warnings, and a chance to reach out for resources like addiction counseling and job placement.

Business owners concerned about drug use, violence and homeless population around North Temple

Hoon said, “We’ve been trying to let people know, ‘OK, the Health Department is coming through and we’re going to make you leave this area.’ We’re trying to put services in front of them, first,” she said.

She said the city is taking a surgical approach to the issue, finding individuals who want to escape homelessness. They’ve sent more city ambassadors to that street to find those who are having mental health issues or drug addiction problems. However, those ambassadors have limited authority.

“Ambassadors are sort of a go-between. They’re somewhere between an outreach worker and a police officer,” Hoon said. “They don’t have the authority to make somebody move.”

According to the Pioneer Park Coalition, the city has a steep uphill battle ahead of it.  Coalition Chair David Kelly said there are things making homelessness worse.  One, the drug cartels are coming back, strong, and the encampments make it easier for drug dealers to find addicts.

Kelly said, “You’re letting the wolves prey on those that need the help.”

Two, Kelly said the homeless population is getting angrier. He said outside groups have berated city officials who are trying to clear the camps, and that anger is growing from people living there.

“You’re starting to see that [attitude] get more into the encampment population. It’s not outside groups coming in saying you can’t do that. It’s the individuals in the encampment that say, ‘You can’t make me move. You can’t do this.’”

Plus, Kelly said even good Samaritan groups are making the problem worse. Frequently, people with good intentions donate things like cash and tents to the homeless, not understanding those donations make it easier for people to avoid reaching out for other resources.

“Somebody can go in and just disappear. They can go off the radar, if you will,” he said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Crime, Police + Courts

Sherree Warren pictured...
Samantha Herrera

COLD: Lying Liars

Cary Hartmann hopes DNA will prove his innocence. But an informant tells police Cary might’ve buried Sheree Warren’s body next to a highway.
14 hours ago
dps helicopter pictured...
Adam Small

DPS helicopter rescues trending up this year

The Department of Public Safety says preparation and caution go a long way toward staying safe outdoors.
14 hours ago
lori daybell...
Dan Bammes

Death penalty off the table for Lori Vallow Daybell

Lori Daybell and her husband Chad stand accused of the murders of her two children.
14 hours ago
spencer cox is pictured, he just signed a bill about domestic violence lethality assessments...
Bridger Beal-Cvetko,

Cox signs bill requiring lethality assessments in Utah domestic violence cases

The law requires law enforcement to conduct lethality assessments during all domestic violence calls
14 hours ago
The US Capitol Police force "is not currently tracking any direct or credible threats to the US Cap...
Priscilla Alvarez, Devan Cole, Alex Marquardt and Holmes Lybrand, CNN

Capitol Police see no current threat to US Capitol, but DC prepares after Trump calls for potential indictment protests

 (CNN) — The US Capitol Police force “is not currently tracking any direct or credible threats to the US Capitol” ahead of a possible indictment of former President Donald Trump, according to a department intelligence assessment obtained by CNN. But officials in Washington are preparing for demonstrations that could erupt, a district official told CNN on Monday. […]
14 hours ago
Pictured is one of two guns seized by police at Highland High School on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Sal...
Mark Jones

Salt Lake City Police to host gun buy-back event on Saturday

A gun buy-back event will be held Saturday, March 25. It is being put on by the Salt Lake City Police Department.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...
BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.
Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a new winter activity? Try skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five common causes of Cervical Cancer – and what you can do to lower your risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get ready for fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 easy Christmas dinner ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Salt Lake City officials say improvements to North Temple homeless camps may be slow, but they are happening