Temporary Shelter Community Frequently Asked Questions:
Why is the City opening the Temporary Shelter Community?
Camping on City streets is dangerous for people living unhoused, due to crime, weather, and lack of access to services. It also creates a difficult environment for surrounding communities, including housed residents, businesses, and visitors.
There is currently not enough space in the Homeless Resource Centers (HRCs) or other emergency shelters for everyone who needs it. Congregate shelter models, like the HRCs and winter overflow beds, are also not conducive to every person in need of shelter.
Salt Lake City and the State Office of Homeless Services are piloting a new approach to shelter. This pilot aims to prove that adding options for shelter type to the existing HRCs and temporary winter overflow will increase the acceptance rate with shelter-resistant individuals and couples, and be an operational model that does not detrimentally impact a neighborhood.
What does non-congregate shelter mean? How is this different than HRCs?
Non-congregate shelters are private spaces that provide temporary shelter with private, individual spaces and do not require occupants to sign a lease. Homeless Resource Centers (HRCs) provide dorm-style shelter, as well as restrooms and hygiene, case management, meals, clothing, medical care, laundry, job training, and employment services.
What were the criteria for choosing a location and how was this chosen?
Any land the City or Redevelopment Agency (RDA) owns was evaluated for a variety of needs, including size, availability, proximity to services, and utilities. Ultimately this is the site that works in the timeframe needed and also has the criteria to be successful.
When will the Temporary Shelter Community open and how long will it be open for?
Our goal is to have this temporary site open for residents when other winter overflow options are also opening–November 2023. We anticipate it will close in April as winter shelters also do, and as we move into the State’s second phase of the model next spring.
Why does the pilot only account for 50 people? Isn’t there a greater need?
We reviewed evidence-based practices and similar models across the country and determined that a capacity of 50 people can be best supported at this site.
This Temporary Shelter Community is in addition to 600+ beds that will open for the winter at other locations across Salt Lake County, including the medically vulnerable populations (MVP) facility and other resource centers and overflow locations.
Why are you piloting it this winter and not earlier?
A lot of things had to come together for this project to work. The City has long taken on a great deal of funding and support for the homeless services system, well outside of the City’s role or what our taxpayers should have to bear. That has been a primary reason the City has not explored this concept in the past.
Now that the State has $1 million to pilot this type of shelter community and is securing state-owned land, the City determined that we could play a role in helping get this up and running as a pilot. This critical funding, along with the State’s plan to host a permanent non-congregate shelter, are key components that not only make it possible but also the right time for the City to pilot a project like this.
Will this site really be ready by winter?
We’re confident the team of experts we have collaborating on this project, combined with the status of the site’s criteria, will be ready to open this winter. However, a lot is dependent on finding the right qualified provider who can manage this shelter in a way that improves the lives of the residents inside and outside of this temporary community.
How is this pilot different from previous years’ temporary winter shelter?
Three years ago, Sugar House hosted a dorm-style shelter and only overnight sleeping. Millcreek City offered the same shelter option last year. However, for two years during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, operators were able to offer individual hotel rooms 24/7 and we found a large number of people preferred this option. This non-congregate model with continuity day-to-day is the focus of this pilot program.
Why won’t this be permanent?
This location won’t be permanent because plans for development are proceeding. But this location is an opportunity to test this concept and take what we learn to make the State’s permanent version at a different location the most successful it can be. The plan is to move tenants from the Phase 1 location to Phase 2’s State-owned site.
Why is the City and/or State not opening something larger and more permanent?
For this type of non-congregate shelter, we have seen the best programs across the nation generally do not exceed 50 people per site. This is to ensure adequate attention is given to each resident to assist them in the overall goal of everyone moving into permanent housing. This initial pilot project is meant to be the first phase, with the State OHS opening a more robust and permanent non-congregate shelter option by Spring 2024 at another location. This model of small, person-centered shelter could be used to assist other cities across the state in delivering more local services so people can stay where they live instead of needing to relocate to Salt Lake City for assistance.
What will be the cost to the City and State? Is there enough funding?
The City is entering into a funding agreement with the State Office of Homeless Services to manage the $500,000 the City Council approved in June 2023. Those funds will be used for the operations of this pilot. The State’s $1,000,000 was set aside to study and create a more permanent option that they are working on currently. That will open after this first phase.
We anticipate there may be additional costs related to site preparation and staffing through the winter. It is a pilot program to see how this model could permanently work in the State, and there are shared costs with our partners at the State. This investment means 50 additional people will have a safe place to sleep at night and live during the day throughout the winter.
What is the next phase?
We’re working with the State Office of Homeless Services to develop the next phase, which will be a more permanent non-congregate shelter site in 2024.
What is the City doing to address the larger number of people who are unsheltered and need housing?
The State Office of Homeless Services, working with mayors across Salt Lake County and providers, has a plan to provide over 600 beds of winter shelter and services. Almost all of those are 24-hour facilities so people will not need to leave each morning to seek services elsewhere. The City is working with the State on longer-term, year-round shelter options as well. More than 700 permanent supportive housing units have already been funded by the State, County and City partnership and are already open or in the pipeline, with more to come.
Homelessness solutions need to be built around housing and services. The City continues to fund affordable, deeply affordable, and permanent supportive housing at record rates and advocates for more robust state-wide housing solutions.
Will abatements still take place this winter?
Salt Lake City will continue to enforce the no-camping ordinance wherever necessary. We’re optimistic that with more than 600 beds coming online as part of the Winter Response Plan, camps won’t reach the size to warrant an abatement. The Salt Lake County Health Department still makes those determinations based on public health needs. This winter when the State issues a “Code Blue” order, which is when temperatures are colder than 15 degrees or there’s a weather event, no abatements will occur. The City’s Rapid Intervention Team will continue responding as quickly as possible to help maintain clean, safe public spaces. Camps can be reported through the City’s app, SLC Mobile.
What is the status of the tiny home village?
The Other Side Village just completed the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) process and is moving full steam ahead on the land lease and development agreement, which are the final two steps needed before a permit can be granted.
What engagement is the City doing or has the City done?
Our City team is working with residents and businesses in close proximity to the shelter this week to field questions or concerns. We will continue that outreach from now until the space opens and beyond. Residents and businesses can direct additional questions and concerns here.
How can I get involved?
We hope that many people will be able to join and offer their expertise and energy. Work to prepare the site will be done by professional crews and a full-time provider determined in the next month. To be notified of future volunteer opportunities, sign up for SLC Corps updates.
I have questions or concerns. Who can I contact?
Salt Lake City constituent liaisons are available to take questions and address any concerns. A website has been set up with details at www.slc.gov/temporaryshelter/. When an operator for the Temporary Shelter Community is determined, they will also field feedback.
Who owns the property?
This is a SLC RDA-owned property.
Where will people sleep?
Our goal is to provide pod-like, hard-sided structures on-site that would give each individual a private space. We’re currently working with the State to determine the best solution that both fits residents’ needs and is best suited for our climate.
What will be on the property once this project closes?
This property is part of the Station Center Development Area (DD). The SLC RDA has existing contracts and redevelopment visions to support the long-term development goals of the community.
How are the up to 50 people being selected?
This will be determined in partnership with the provider who is selected to operate the shelter. Residents will be identified through the pre-existing coordinated intake program that facilitates entry into other housing and shelter options in Salt Lake County. People will not line up at the entrance to gain entry. From an admission standpoint, this model will operate more like housing than shelter.
Who will be the provider?
Not yet. We anticipate the State releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) soon to determine the provider.
What services and resources will be available to help the individuals in the temporary shelter?
There will be 24-hour support staff on-site, and we will work with the contracted provider to provide access to showers, food, case management and housing support, and other basic needs.
How much of the provider's funding will go toward mental health services?
The selected provider will help determine how such services will be provided.
Will individuals chosen for this temporary community be transitioned into more permanent housing by the end of April 2024?
One of the goals of this temporary shelter will be to assist residents in finding and securing permanent housing as soon as possible.
Will couples be allowed to stay together?
Every person will be assigned their own space. While we will likely have couples on-site, they will not share personal space permanently.
Will pets be allowed?
Pets will be allowed at the Temporary Shelter Community.
What’s the plan to ensure the safety of businesses and neighbors?
Safety is an important part of this pilot. We’re currently working with the Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD), outreach providers, public cleaning teams, Downtown Ambassadors, and the SLC Park Rangers to develop a safety and security plan that will ensure public safety and the safety of residents of the shelter both in and around this immediate neighborhood.
Those efforts are beginning even before the shelter opens and will continue through its duration. The focus will be on dissuading camping in the area, addressing problematic behaviors of people hanging out, and getting supportive services for them as appropriate. We’re improving the current issues already identified by the neighbors.
SLCPD has seen great success in reducing crime around the Gail Miller Homeless Resource Center since a dedicated squad was put in place in the Summer of 2023. There will be increased patrols in this area during the pilot. We will be diligent in keeping the area, residents, and visitors safe.
Will there be on-site security?
There will be a service provider on-site 24/7. Staffing—including dedicated security —will be determined with the provider once they are selected. The provider will be responsible for maintaining a safe environment within the shelter.
In the vicinity of the shelter, SLCPD will deploy a neighborhood safety and security plan. We anticipate the provider will work with us to address issues that are close to the shelter perimeter.
Will drugs be allowed in the temporary shelter?
Open use of substances, or dealing them, in or around the shelter will not be allowed. Those who are in need of substance abuse treatment and support will be helped to access those services in a manner that best addresses their needs.
Will unsanctioned camping be enforced in the area and throughout the City?
Salt Lake City does not permit camping on public property and enforces this statute, but as many are aware, there have not been enough beds in shelters or housing for everyone. However, this year, with 600 winter shelter and transitional housing options available in addition to this pilot project, we believe most will find a placement where they feel comfortable.
While there are some who may not accept indoor placements, the vast majority choose indoor options when they are accessible and available.
The Outreach Team and Rapid Intervention Team, along with police support as needed, will continue to work with anyone who remains outside throughout the winter.