SALT LAKE CITY — Starting in 2016, there will be "significant action" on homelessness, Jackie Biskupski, the likely future mayor of Salt Lake City, told the Pioneer Park Coalition on Wednesday afternoon.
"Moving forward in 2016, you will see action. (Salt Lake County) Mayor (Ben) McAdams and I are both very committed to take significant steps to make sure we are moving in a direction that resolves the issues we face today in Salt Lake City," Biskupski said.
"I know the state Legislature is very committed to the funding of the facilities that will need to be acquired or built or created in one form or another," she said. "I think that commitment will also potentially be matched by people in this community who care enough to also stand up and say, 'I want to make a difference on this issue.'"
Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County should no longer shoulder the responsibilities for the state's homeless people alone, Biskupski said.
"Every county has human services dollars. They draw those down federally and from the state. It's important that we share this burden and this doesn't all rest on one municipality and it doesn't all rest on one county," she said.
On Nov. 23, the city's Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission will meet jointly with Salt Lake County's Collective Impact on Homelessness Steering Committee appointed by McAdams.
In advance of that meeting, Pioneer Park Coalition members reviewed three scenarios developed by the city commission appointed by Mayor Ralph Becker.
The commission, led by Gail Miller and Palmer DePaulis, will deliver its final recommendations to the city administration in a matter of weeks.
The city commission contemplates three scenarios: an all-inclusive campus for homeless services, scattered facilities, and scattered shelters with centralized facilities.
In a straw poll of members attending Wednesday's meeting at the Salt Lake Public Safety Building, Pioneer Park Coalition members — business owners, residents and other stakeholders — overwhelmingly supported the scattered facilities approach.
According to the commission's documents, scattered facilities would likely be more expensive because of duplication of facilities for subpopulations, but facilities would be "geographically separated from each other to lessen neighborhood impact."
"I, myself, lean toward No. 2," said Josh Romney, finance chairman of the Pioneer Park Coalition.
Biskupski said she also preferred the second approach because children and their families would be housed in different facilities from homeless adults.
"It’s a high priority for me to take care of kids in a much different fashion," she said.
Coalition members also reviewed a data "snapshot" of the mix of people using The Road Home community shelter on a single day in midsummer compiled by Salt Lake City officials.
Fifty were workers who needed beds. There were also 200 children in families, 100 adults in families, 150 single women, 200 single men and a total of 200 people who needed mental or substance abuse treatment.
Coalition member Tiffany Provost said the pie chart spoke to the need for scattered facilities.
"You would never take first-graders and put them in with eighth-graders," she said.
"That pie is like putting all the kids in one classroom."
Scott Howell, Pioneer Park Coalition chairman, agreed.
"God bless The Road Home for taking them in, but it's not really doing the right thing."