New homelessness plan
I recently joined state and city leaders to announce a new homelessness plan that has the following components:
- Four homeless resource centers to replace the
one-size-fits-all emergency shelter in the Rio Grande area. Two facilities will be constructed in Salt
Lake City, capped at 200 beds each, and a third resource center will be located
outside of Salt Lake City. The family shelter in Midvale, which is now open
year-round, will be the facility that serves homeless families with children.
- The resource centers will serve distinct
populations of adult women, adult men and single men and single women in
separate areas of one facility.
- Alternatives to shelter have been carefully
considered over a period of several years and will help ensure that demand for
emergency shelter lessens over time.
- If implemented as planned, the state
anticipates being able to responsibly close the Rio Grande shelter by June 30,
More information on the new plan released by the state of
Utah is available on the Utah House of Representatives blog.
The public will be invited to give input on possible
locations for the third facility. A schedule of public meetings will soon be released. A site selection recommendation committee—with members from the public, private
and nonprofit communities—will submit a recommendation to the State Homeless
Coordinating Committee by March 30, 2017.
I am grateful to all parties who are working tirelessly to
give us solutions that will minimize homelessness in our state and keep all
neighborhoods safe and welcoming.
Opportunity Ahead: 2017 State of the County
My 2017 State of the County speech focused on opportunities for all county residents, specifically in the areas of good jobs, safe, affordable housing, access to quality healthcare and education, and recreation and fun. We have made great progress in these areas but our work is not done yet.
County government is showing that it can step up to the challenges of a rapidly changing world. In the coming year, I want every county agenda item to be one that expands opportunity. Anyone who feels the the economy has let them down and that no one cares about what happens to their lives or their families, I say watch for Salt Lake County's opportunity signs.
Salt Lake County will welcome refugees, celebrate diversity, support individual initiative and be accountable for every tax dollar we spend.
My favorite part of this year's State of the County was when I got to welcome refugee teens who are being resettled here, joining our community. I told these kids, who have escaped extreme hardship, that they are welcome here and make our community stronger. Read my speech here.
Criminal justice solutions
Anyone who spends time in the Rio Grande area of downtown
has seen the problem. Drug use and
homeless individuals intermingle on the streets and sidewalks. Criminals
exploit the chaos to sell drugs and commit other crimes.
Since the state of Utah adopted the Justice Reinvestment
Initiative a little over a year ago, penalties for buying drugs shifted from
prison time, to county jail time. But money to either build more jail beds or
offer treatment beds has not materialized. Officers responding to illegal drug
use and purchases have no placement options for those they arrest.
We cannot jail our way out of drug use on city streets, but
we must have adequate jail space and drug and alcohol treatment beds to
encourage people suffering from addiction to choose treatment over the threat
The state legislature has not adopted meaningful Medicaid
expansion, but they did pass a scaled down version to fund help for our state’s
most vulnerable citizens, the homeless and those involved with the criminal
justice system. I’m now asking state lawmakers take the $30 million they authorized
for the federal Medicaid match, and apply it to our existing needs. It would
help pay for residential drug and alcohol treatment programs and give these
people a chance to recover from their addictions and return to more stable
This past October, Salt Lake County behavioral health,
sheriff, and district attorney teamed up with Salt Lake City Police and mayor
to run Operation Diversion in which eligible arrestees were offered treatment
or jail. Many who chose treatment have continued in their programs and are
taking meaningful steps to recover. Operation Diversion was an experiment with
positive results. We need financial support in order to put the theory behind
the Justice Reinvestment Initiative into practice.
Salt Lake County will continue to support and carry out
state policy, but without the complete package of legal changes and funding,
the chaos we see on the streets of our capital city will continue and likely
Beginning my second term
Today I joined my fellow Salt Lake County officials at an inauguration ceremony where those of us elected to another term took our oaths of office. It is an honor for me to take
the oath of office for a second term as Mayor of Salt Lake County. A new year and new
inauguration is an opportunity to shake things up and do things
What a terrific time to be in
local government. It is both exciting and humbling. There is so much energy, talent and
commitment in Salt Lake County, with each day holding new opportunities for progress.
I’m eager to get to work on
another four years of listening, learning, understanding and then acting on
what the people of Salt Lake County desire for the future.
Read my full speech.
Thank you to Salt Lake County's snow removal team
The last few weeks we have experienced some very heavy storms throughout the valley. Every time I get to where I need to go - often times with my four young kids in the backseat - I think of how grateful I am to the people who get up in the middle of night clearing the roads, making them safe. Salt Lake County has a dedicated, experienced team ready to hit the snowy streets through every storm to make the roads as safe as possible for all residents. Take a look at this video of our drivers in action.