HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS

Salt Lake City could soon have permanent, legal homeless camps

Jun 14, 2023, 5:00 PM | Updated: Jun 15, 2023, 3:04 pm

Salt Lake City could soon have a permanent homeless camp. Victoria Petro, Salt Lake City Council me...

FILE: Tony Lambert moves some of his belongings at his homeless encampment in SLC on Feb 2., 2023 (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Homeless camps, sponsored in part by the city, could soon come to those who need this service in Salt Lake City.  Salt Lake City Council member Victoria Petro told KSL NewsRadio the potential encampment capitalizes on public and private partnerships.  

 

Providing a homeless camp in Salt Lake City would be a group effort

It isn’t the role of the city to provide homeless campgrounds, she said. Instead, they are providing resources that will support private organizations that are already working with people who are homeless.

The city will provide guidance like best practices and help create standards that will keep the shelters safe. And, if all goes well, the establishment of this campground shouldn’t be too far in the future. 

“We’re ready to go once we have those standards set and the private organization has their goals and application,” said Petro.  

Unsanctioned homeless camps

According to Petro, the goal is to work with private entities to host people who are homeless. This is preferred to moving them from one unsanctioned camping area to the next. 

“Right now, it’s kind of like pushing peas around on a plate,” she said. “Every time we push them from one place, they just go somewhere else.”

A dedicated campground would not only provide space for people to find shelter, but build community and institutional trust as well. When you’re dealing with people who are homeless, Petro said, you’re often dealing with people who have been traumatized. That is why when the encampment is approved and underway, there will be similar camps throughout the city.

“Best practices show that smaller camps have higher levels of success,” she said. “Then when the long-term affordable housing finally does come online, then we’ll be ready to get into that because we will have spent the time doing the therapeutic and community building work with them.”

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Salt Lake City could soon have permanent, legal homeless camps