The organization in charge of planning for winter overflow housing for Utah’s homeless population, the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, proposed the final temporary location for winter 2021 in Salt Lake City on Friday.
The site is the Airport Inn Hotel at 2333 W. North Temple in Salt Lake City, which will add between 100-120 beds to the state’s homeless resources.
The additional space would raise overflow capacity to somewhere between 1,944 and 2,030 beds, which is substantially higher than the 1,717 that were available in January of 2020.
In a special session held on Friday, the Salt Lake City Council adopted the ordinance, enacting a temporary land use regulation.
The use of the space comes after the hotel decided to close following a major drop in travelers at the Salt Lake International Airport during the pandemic. It chose to use that time to implement some renovation plans, but those have also stopped until the spring, leaving the space available.
The site will operate as a 24/7 location with transportation, meal service, and access to other service. Beds will be reserved, and an enhanced shuttle system is being utilized this winter, adding to the current transportation that goes between the other homeless resource centers.
In a statement, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said:
“Salt Lake City has often risen above and beyond our role and our resources to make sure everyone has the option of a warm, safe place to sleep, but let’s be clear: it is not Salt Lake City’s role to address the statewide problem of too few shelter beds.
For the second winter in a row, our City has had to help fill gaps in the homeless services system. The system of determining sufficient winter shelter as it currently stands is dysfunctional and a disservice to the service providers, residents and businesses in the area, and most of all, to individuals experiencing homelessness.
I empathize with the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, which has been given the charge by the state legislature to secure winter shelter without the staffing, funding, or authority to actually do so. It’s an untenable situation that is set up to fail. We must do better. All of our government partners must be willing to do their part.
I applaud the city of Millcreek for supporting the 60-bed temporary transitional housing that opened this week. I commend our Salt Lake City Council for acting quickly to respond to the Coalition’s request for necessary, formal action to allow a shelter with twice as many beds in our city. I look to the other cities in Salt Lake County and beyond to become active participants in this conversation. Salt Lake City knows it’s hard, it’s unpopular, and it stretches already overstretched resources, but ensuring people have access to shelter is the right thing to do.”
Those experiencing homelessness this winter and are seeking shelter can call 801-990-9999 to find out where space is available.