Mayor talks transitional housing for homeless in Sandy

Oct 5, 2023, 7:00 PM

FILE - A homeless person lies on the sidewalk while holding a water bottle, Sunday, July 2, 2023, i...

FILE - A homeless person lies on the sidewalk while holding a water bottle, Sunday, July 2, 2023, in downtown Los Angeles. Excessive heat warnings remain in place in many areas across the U.S. and are expected to last at least through Monday. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Sandy City is helping to convert a former hotel into transitional housing for homeless people who are also medically vulnerable. 

On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved a code change that will allow the organization Shelter the Homeless to use a former hotel at 8955 South and 255 West to shelter and assist at-risk homeless seniors and individuals in need of ongoing medical care.

Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski joins Dave and Dujanovic to discuss the transitional-housing project to shelter MVP (medically vulnerable people).

Zoltanski said the MVPs are now living in the shelters in the urban core of downtown Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake.

“Imagine having kidney dialysis and you’re living in a dorm-style shelter. Imagine having cancer treatment or a heart condition where you can’t get up and down out of a bunk bed,” she said.

She added those MVP will be transitioning to the 165-resident shelter in Sandy where they can stay for as little as two weeks and as long as two years.

Out of the cold

Every winter homeless people die in the streets; that is not acceptable for a state like Utah, Zoltanski said. 

Last year, the mayors of Salt Lake Valley were tasked with identifying places to construct a six-month winter shelter, such as an empty building or even a parking lot, she said.

“Rather than reacting in crisis mode every winter, when I was approached by Shelter the Homeless about the hotel in Sandy, about the possibility of them acquiring it, I thought it just made better sense to have a long-term solution, a permanent solution where people could work their way out of homelessness, and this is an important stepping stone,” the mayor said.

Security is most important

Before the code change was approved by the council, the mayor said there was a neighborhood meeting where information was shared and public input was given by the community stakeholders and business owners. The No. 1 issue was security.

“Security for the people who reside in the MVP [facility] so they’re not preyed upon. So it is not now or ever will be a walk-up structure that will attract tent camping and a lot of adjacent negative behavior that attracts a lot of crime,” Zoltanski said.

Sandy residents grew more comfortable with the idea of transitional housing for medically vulnerable homeless people when they learned admittance to the facility was based on referral and medical criteria, the mayor said, adding there are also accountability components built in to the project.

“So there’s going to be a lot of check-ins and a lot of public-accountability reports to the Planning Commission, to the City Council and to city staff and myself,” Zoltanski said.

Not a city center shelter

The MVP transitional housing in Sandy could be modeled by other cities wanting solutions to their homeless populations.

“Something like this can make sense for suburban communities and even remote communities throughout the state because the residents are stable. The medical care comes to them. It’s not a lot of in-and-out activity that impacts the neighborhood,” the mayor said. “So this is a model that I think can be duplicated, and provide a very safe, dignified standard of care for people who need it most: veterans, seniors, people with complex medical cases.”


Sandy City approves housing for medically vulnerable people


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Mayor talks transitional housing for homeless in Sandy