South Salt Lake Mayor says resources are available for those seeking shelter.
SOUTH SALT LAKE- The City of South Salt Lake is finding ways to address homelessness by preventing unused buildings from being used as shelter.
South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood says there are currently 37 units that are vacant in the city. Of which, 25 are residential and 12 are commercial. The figures do not account for units that are being renovated. With that number of vacant buildings, it is not uncommon for some of them to be broken into.
Wood said owners of vacant properties are required to secure them but sometimes they fail to do so, which makes it difficult to keep vacant buildings from being occupied by individuals seeking shelter.
“If you have an unmotivated owner of a property, it becomes very difficult to seek a more permanent resolution then just requiring them to secure these buildings,” she said.
Despite that, the city implemented strategies to not only keep vacant buildings unoccupied but also to provide resource for those who need help.
“We’re really working hard to stay in front of this,” Wood said. “We have a list of properties that are vacant, and so we do extra patrol but sometimes those properties get breached.”
Properties are patrolled
She also said the city patrols 25 of those properties on a regular basis. Residents can take part by being proactive and reporting vacant properties that are breached.
“A neighbor, usually it’s a neighbor, that identifies it and lets us know that there’s an issue so that we can go out there and get it secured,” Wood said.
Once the city is notified, the city sends a homeless resource officer. The officer provides support to those who occupy vacant properties. Homeless resource officers are not cops and do not arrest people.
“Our homeless resource officers function differently than just regular police officers in our community,” she said. “They have connections to resources that they attempt to get our homeless friends, either shelter or medical care, or whatever else that they may need.”
The city also has a homeless strategies department that provides resources as well as holds monthly community meetings. According to the website, the meeting includes “Police, Fire, EMS providers, community-based partners, and City Administration.”
Wood invites anyone in the community to contact a neighborhood ambassador if they see someone who needs help finding shelter. The number to call is (801) 464-6757. They can also email at email@example.com.
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