We Have To Take Effective Action.
ROCKY’S ADVOCACY FOR RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSESS, AND FOR ADEQUATE SHELTER AND AN END TO CITY RAIDS AND CONFISCATIONS
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EFFECTIVE MEASURES TO IMPROVE SALT LAKE CITY’S
RESPONSE TO THE HOMELESSNESS CRISIS
- Eliminate encampments in parks and elsewhere throughout the city by providing a temporary secured sanctioned camp, remote from neighborhoods and businesses (e.g., the former Wingpointe Golf Course), with decent toilets, showers, laundry facilities, storage lockers, three nutritious meals each day, mail service, transportation, and professional outreach/case management workers to transition people out of homelessness.
- Provide comprehensive professional outreach and case management throughout the city for every homeless person on the street, in shelters, or in permanent supportive housing to transition them (depending on their current status) into a sanctioned camp, shelters, treatment, employment, and/or transitional or permanent housing.
- Enforce laws, with diversion from jail to effective treatment whenever possible, implementing the principles of restorative justice to solve problems (e.g., mental illness and drug addiction treatment) rather than maintain the status quo or simply to punish. There should be more focus on the demand side in enforcing drug laws to dry up the market for drugs and eliminate dealers. Return the duties of Salt Lake City Prosecutor to Salt Lake City, with full accountability on the part of the mayor and the administration.
- Provide adequate, vastly improved secure 24/7-all-year overflow shelter space (non-congregate if possible), with property lockers, so that unsheltered homeless people are never again left out in the sweltering summers or freezing winters (causing deaths and frostbite/amputations of fingers, toes, and feet) and avoiding negative impacts for residents/families and businesses throughout the city. Instead of scurrying each year to develop a winter overflow shelter (which traditionally has been inadequate, leaving many people without options other than being on the streets in the bitter cold), and instead of spending millions of dollars on temporary overflow measures, the primary focus (while making sure unsheltered homeless people are afforded shelter from the elements) should be on investing in permanent housing, where the investments will have long-term benefits.
- Provide adequate shelters—away from residential neighborhoods and in close proximity to other homeless services--that are vastly improved and welcoming to homeless people (i.e., safe, clean, without bed bugs, secure, with a respectful environment, and with property lockers); with effective facility and case management; effective transition to treatment, housing, and jobs; accountable to the public, with reporting of metrics of success; and with close proximity to other homeless services (eliminating “scattered sites”) to get unsheltered homeless people off the streets, protect them from the elements and crime, and transition them to housing, jobs, and appropriate treatment.
- Provide adequate residential and out-patient mental health and addiction treatment (for which the County must be responsible, since it receives the funding), including facilities for arrested people who would benefit from mental health and addiction treatment.
- Provide more cost-effective permanent supportive housing, with accountability for tenants, respecting the interests of residents and the neighborhood.
- Provide housing with wrap-around services, like Alliance House, for people with serious mental health and addiction disorders.
- Create a campus where all homeless services—including case management, legal services, a kennel, childcare, mental health and addiction treatment, and job training and placement—will be in close proximity to each other. (A model is Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FzfI6gPB0k)
Protect people from becoming homeless in the first place.
- Require that developers relocate people displaced from existing affordable housing by developments.
- Provide abundant mixed-income non-market affordable housing at all income levels. (Quit depending on the neo-liberal “market” approach, where government subsidizes private developers instead of building excellent mixed-income housing itself.)
- Provide subsidies or low- or no-interest loans to help during financial crises for those at risk of becoming homeless.
- Provide accessible, affordable, and safe childcare so people can work to maintain their housing.
- Provide access to food pantries that focus on healthy nourishment.
- Provide adequate and accessible residential and out-patient mental health and addiction treatment.
- Advocate for a higher minimum wage, reform of eviction laws, and ability of municipalities to enact inclusionary zoning ordinances.
- Coordinate with prisons, jails, hospitals, and mental health facilities so no one will be released without housing.
We can achieve tremendous progress as we all come together—government entities at all levels, the business community, philanthropists, and churches—to attain a far better quality of life for residents, visitors, members of the homeless community, and businesses alike.
Please watch and share with friends and colleagues the video linked here, which addresses the crisis facing our entire city and the necessary solutions: www.rocky4mayor.com/2g.
Fletcher is among the city’s new homeless, a population that is expected to increase by 20% during next month’s Winter Games. Some, such as Fletcher, came searching for Olympic employment. Others have lost their jobs, victims of the recession and terrorism’s toll on the tourist economy. Still others were evicted from their motels and apartments by landlords who are bumping up rents to profit from the Olympics.
Yet as the city prepares to take the world spotlight Feb. 8, it is proving as hospitable to the down-and-out as it is to the moneyed.
Fletcher is receiving shelter and food in a complex of homeless service providers fully visible to tourists visiting downtown’s newest upscale shopping complex. He received a voucher for a new pair of work boots and was given a bus pass so he could look for a job.
The city has gathered hundreds of volunteers to help the homeless and last week opened a new emergency homeless shelter--not in some distant suburb but just a few blocks from where the figure skaters and ice dancers will compete.
It’s the first time, officials say, that an Olympic host city has added an emergency shelter--with 450 beds--to accommodate the expected overflow of homeless people.
The opening of the shelter--financed with city, county and state funds--stands in contrast to Atlanta, where in advance of the 1996 Summer Olympics, police arrested 10,000 homeless people. Homeless advocates complained that the tactics were intended to scare the homeless away or cajole them to lay low during the Games. Officials there also offered free one-way bus tickets under a clean-the-streets program euphemistically called, “Project Homeward Bound.”
Salt Lake City instead is putting out the welcome mat. “We respect the human and civil rights of everyone, including the homeless, during these Olympics,” said Mayor Rocky Anderson, a former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. “We won’t be doing roundups or anything like that. This community is very caring toward the homeless.”
The ACLU said it has received no complaints of mistreatment from homeless people.
The city and the surrounding county have a long, established history of caring for the homeless. A coalition of 40 public, private, church and charitable organizations tend to an estimated 2,500 homeless people who live here.
It’s now bracing for as many as 500 more, said Sheila Walsh-McDonald, chairwoman of the Salt Lake County Homeless Coordinating Council.
“We think we’re going to be the first Olympics city to be prepared to handle the homeless,” she said.
Salt Lake City is hardly a target for the migrating homeless, given its cold winters and Utah’s tightfisted welfare system. Its homeless population is relatively small, in part because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members make up 70% of Utah’s population, admonishes its followers to be responsible for themselves and, if they run into financial crises, to turn first to family before seeking church or civil assistance.
But not everyone has family to turn to. Robert Aldrich, 45, lost his job in October as a food and beverage director at an upscale hotel in Park City, 30 miles southeast of here. Business there plummeted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.
With no paycheck and dwindling savings, he moved from a mountain rental condominium to a Salt Lake City house he shared with two other men. He got a part-time telephone job for $8 an hour. Unable to make his rent, he now sleeps in his car.
“This town is a piece of cake to be homeless in,” he said while waiting for lunch at the St. Vincent de Paul center, known locally as St. Vinny’s. “We’re almost coddled. I’m getting three meals a day, and I could get six if I wanted. There aren’t any skinny homeless people in Salt Lake.”
Lynette Phillipsen’s take on Salt Lake City was less sunny. Phillipsen, 50, arrived in town 10 days ago from Arizona with $11 in her purse. She ended up at the Road Home, the city’s largest homeless shelter. “I think it’s cruel, the way the homeless are treated here,” she said. “The shelters don’t have kitchen facilities, and to eat you’re treated like cattle--coming in two at a time.”
Fletcher, 53, came here hoping for an $18-an-hour job hanging drywall. Instead, he’ll earn $8 an hour attending an Olympic park-and-ride facility, not enough to pay for an apartment. After the Olympics, he said, he’ll probably take his job hunt to Denver.
Linda Hamilton, who chairs the Humanitarian Services Committee of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, said untold numbers of construction workers have flocked here because of construction slowdowns elsewhere.
“I talked to eight carpenters who showed up here from Las Vegas assuming there’d be jobs here,” she said. “They told me more were headed this way.”
The city is most sympathetic to those who have lost affordable housing because their landlords evicted them to rent rooms to visitors at higher rates during the Games.
“Nobody should be profiting during the Olympics at the expense of persons needing affordable housing,” Anderson said.
At Zion’s Motel, along the street that leads directly to the state Capitol, owner John Purdue evicted the tenants of his two dozen units on Jan. 15--including those who were paying $220 a week--and raised the rates to $105 a night.
“We’re anticipating being very busy,” he said.
Of the people he evicted, Purdue said: “We’re a for-profit business. We’re not a charity. . . . We’re sympathetic [toward the homeless], but this is a supply-and-demand world.”
Homeless advocates say they’ve heard of similar evictions at low-income apartments--and are helpless to stop it. Utah law allows landlords to evict month-to-month tenants without cause with just a 15-day notice. “Salt Lake City has the fastest evictions in the West,” said Marty Blaustein, a housing attorney for Utah Legal Services. “And residents who live in some awful conditions are being evicted so the owners can rent those units sight-unseen for $250 to people coming here from out of state.”
Although the Olympics can be partly blamed for increasing the number of homeless, the Games also are helping to feed them. Hilton’s humanitarian committee arranged for Olympic food vendors--who provide box lunches to athletes, volunteers and others on the slopes and in the arenas--to return unopened ones daily for distribution to the city’s soup kitchens.
Because of the increased need for volunteers, the federal government dispatched 250 of its AmeriCorps volunteers to help.
As men and women enter the new emergency shelter, the volunteers fill out admission forms and politely but firmly check bags for weapons, drugs and alcohol.
Once admitted, the homeless walk across the concrete floor and claim a cot, laid out in sharp, straight rows in the middle of the cavernous room. At dinner, they walk to the Salvation Army hall, which serves as many as 500 meals nightly and is gearing up to serve 1,000 during the Olympics.
“We anticipate a lot more people who need assistance will be coming to town during the Games,” said Wayne Froderberg, a major with the Salvation Army. “We have a compassionate network of providers. We want to be good hosts to all who come here.”
ROCKY HAS VIGOROUSLY ADVOCATED FOR SALT LAKE CITY'S HOMELESS COMMUNITY, RESIDENTS, AND BUSINESSES FOR DECADES
HOW MAYORAL CANDIDATE ROCKY ANDERSON WANTS TO DEAL WITH—AND HELP—UNHOUSED UTAHNS WHO RESIST SHELTERS
"First, immediately, and I would do this within two months or sooner after I become mayor, I would put together sanctioned camps — and there would have to be a separate one for families — and include in those camps optional shelter that is low- or no-barrier, where people can come and at least get out of the elements.
At those sanctioned camps — which would include parking for trailers, campers, trucks, wherever people are living — I would make certain that everybody has access to toilets, showers, laundry facilities, a community kitchen and food, and we could participate with churches and volunteers in the community, and homelessness advocates.
We put an end [to unsanctioned camping], but we have a humane, decent alternative." – Rocky Anderson
"Mayor Anderson was there to witness and record the raid when he noticed the man was not wearing shoes. He asked him why he was only wearing socks and the man replied he couldn’t wear shoes because of the condition of his feet. Anderson looked at his feet and immediately said, 'Get in my car. I’m taking you to an emergency room now.' "
"With the spirited, committed leadership of Luann Clark, the Citys Division of Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND) has aided thousands of Salt Lake City residents in obtaining proper housing. In the past seven years, HAND has utilized nearly $30 million from a variety of local and federal sources to make available nearly 2000 units of affordable housing and over 350 units of market-rate housing. The projects HAND has completed include a unique project at our Veterans Hospital that provides transitional housing for homeless veterans; the remarkable Bridge Project on the west side, which provides affordable living and office spaces for artists and cultural organizations; the Jefferson Apartments, which provide low-income housing one block from a TRAX line; and Sunrise Apartments, a 100-unit housing development for chronically homeless people." - Rocky Anderson, 2007 State of the City Address
Throughout 2022 and 2023, Rocky has been filming and recording the stories and experiences of people experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake City. This playlist contains only some of interviews and footage Rocky has filmed. As Rocky continues filming, more interviews and footage will be added to the playlist. There are also videos of Rocky discussing the homeless crisis, solutions, and relating issues. Thank you to all of the people who have shared their experiences, hopes, and heartaches with Rocky as he campaigns for SLC Mayor with the goal of implementing real solutions for homelessness that benefit not only those experiencing it, but that benefit SLC residents, visitors, and businesses alike.
"Anderson added Wednesday that he would stop "cruel" police raids and evictions of homeless people from camps "until there are alternative options for them," instead calling for "secure sanctioned camps" much like Haven for Hope in San Antonio among other reforms."
In this short clip from Utah Stories, host
Richard Markosian and Rocky discuss homelessness and affordable housing and the responsibility of the current mayoral administration for the lack of solutions in Salt Lake City.
SALT LAKE CITY'S UNIQUELY COMPASSIONATE APPROACH TOWARD THE HOMELESS COMMUNITY IN CONNECTION WITH THE 2002 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES—"OLYMPIAN EFFORT TO HANDLE HOMELESS"
"The opening of the shelter—financed with city, county and state funds—stands in contrast to Atlanta, where in advance of the 1996 Summer Olympics, police arrested 10,000 homeless people. Homeless advocates complained that the tactics were intended to scare the homeless away or cajole them to lay low during the Games. Officials there also offered free one-way bus tickets under a clean-the-streets program euphemistically called, 'Project Homeward Bound.'
Salt Lake City instead is putting out the welcome mat. 'We respect the human and civil rights of everyone, including the homeless, during these Olympics,' said Mayor Rocky Anderson, a former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. 'We won’t be doing roundups or anything like that. This community is very caring toward the homeless.' "
"Former Mayor Rocky Anderson vows to open [an approved, sanctioned homeless camp] or more camps with toilets, showers, laundry facilities, food and caseworkers in an attempt to quell street camping."
"What utterly inhumane, wasteful, cruel practices. And this is coming straight from Mayor Mendenhall. The buck not only stops with her: we know that this policy is driven by her. And yet she'll go out in the most hypocritical fashion and talk about how much she loves the homeless." - Rocky Anderson, interview on Utah Stories podcast
" 'In short, there’s an enormous, deadly Catch-22 crack in the system through which mentally ill people freezing to death are falling,' . . . 'It is the responsibility of our elected officials and employees whose jobs entail providing mental health services to mentally ill homeless people to provide a solution to this dilemma,' Anderson wrote."
". . . I'm not looking to have people, especially if they're mentally ill or drug addicted , to face a lot of punishment or retribution, I'm looking for them to be brought into the system and get some help." - Rocky Anderson
NO ONE SHOULD ‘SPEND THEIR GOLDEN YEARS IN A SHELTER’—HOW UTAH CAN STOP THE ALARMING SPIKE OF HOMELESS SENIORS
"Hale was living out of a tent when a chance encounter with former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson over the summer sparked a shift in her living conditions. Anderson, who is seeking to recapture his seat at City Hall and is campaigning heavily on homelessness issues, introduced Hale to officials from The Point, a low-income housing development at 2333 W. North Temple for seniors and veterans run by Switchpoint, a nonprofit homelessness services organization. Last month, Hale moved into her new place, paying $450 a month with utilities included. It’s a price modest enough to be covered by the Social Security she started collecting last spring when she turned 65."
"Former Mayor Rocky Anderson is calling for a sanctioned campground . . . 'If [the unsheltered homeless] preferred to be in tents then you could get that sanctioned campground, but I also think there are plenty of warehouses, there are plenty of places that we could find, like the courtyard in San Antonio, you could put pads down on the floor. They could have lockers where you can store your property. But right now, what happens: you pitch your tent, you are trying to find a place where you can exist, you have a job, then you get a warning that they are going to raid, they are going to take
your property if you are not there to get your stuff out of there so you can’t go to work.' " - Rocky Anderson
"[W]e need to commit to get rid of all the encampments spread throughout the community, and, with that, some of the criminal element. But, you don’t do that unless you’ve got alternatives. That’s why we’ve got the situation we have now, those alternatives haven’t been provided. When the road home shelter was closed, it was a disaster in the making. . . [The "resource centers" are] all full, and they ended up with almost four hundred fewer beds among these resource centers that cost so many millions of dollars to build and to operate than were available with 1,100 beds at the Road Home shelters." - Rocky Anderson, City Cast Salt Lake podcast
"Mayor Rocky Anderson addressed the AMSA in a meeting held Thursday afternoon outside the Park Building. 'In Utah about 4,000 people are homeless every night,' Anderson said. 'What you are doing is absolutely inspirational. It’s great to see more and more young people that are stepping up on social issues.' "
" 'This is going to be remembered in history as a real turning point for how we work with those who are chronically homeless,' said Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Eighty of Sunrise's 100 apartments have been leased, with the others expected to be filled in May. Residents will begin moving in April 5."
" 'The next person who dies of exposure on the streets of Salt Lake City will be a result of there being no plan, no implementation and no overflow shelter to provide for the safety of the people who are homeless in our city,' Anderson said."
"'We cannot have one more homeless person dying on the streets of Salt Lake City,' Anderson said as he led a protest outside of current Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s office Friday afternoon. 'We have no plan in Salt Lake City for when the shelters are at capacity and people are out in the cold.' "
After a 15-year hiatus, Rocky Anderson said he is running for mayor of Salt Lake City for a third time in November mainly running because of the homeless crisis.
‘We had people on our streets dying of the freezing cold, getting frostbite and having their fingers and their toes amputated — and that is an absolute crisis, and it was ignored,’ Anderson said. . . . ‘And in the process, confiscating their survival gear like tents, sleeping bags, and clothing,’ he said. ‘That is what got me going. Our city — everybody has been negatively impacted: our residents, businesses and members of the homeless community.’
Rocky Anderson has innovative, evidence-based solutions to provide truly affordable housing to all income levels, including those who require deeply affordable housing in Salt Lake City.
“We know that it can be done. This sense of ‘oh it’s awful’ it’s happening all over the country, it’s absolutely not true, there are cities that are solving these problems that are making great strides in providing adequate housing. We can, and if I’m Mayor, we will provide adequate housing for all who are vulnerable in our community.” –Rocky Anderson
AS MAYOR, ROCKY GAVE PREFERENCE TO CITY CONTRACTORS WHO PAID A LIVING WAGE. UTAH LEGISLATURE THEN PROHIBITED SUCH A PREFERENCE.
". . . Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson proposed a living-wage ordinance — one that would allow the city to give preference to contractors when they paid above the minimum wage. The Legislature shot down that proposal, arguing that various minimum wages in different communities and living-wage policies would harm businesses."
"In the past seven years, HAND has utilized nearly $30 million from a variety of local and federal sources to make available nearly 2000 units of affordable housing and over 350 units of market-rate housing. The projects HAND [SLC Division of Housing and Neighborhood Development] has completed include. . . transitional housing for homeless veterans. . .the Jefferson Apartments, which provide low-income housing . . . and Sunrise Apartments, a 100-unit housing development for chronically homeless people. . . In recognition of her years of brilliant, dedicated service and successes [in providing affordable housing], [SLC's Director of Housing and Neighborhood Development] LuAnn Clark received the Local Government Service Award from NeighborWorks America." - Rocky Anderson, 2007 State of the City Address
"[H]ousing advocates are joining the mayor's office in criticizing how the [Council's] policy addresses affordable housing in Salt Lake City. . . . Anderson's office maintains the plan could be detrimental to affordable housing projects in Salt Lake City. The city only receives about 10 applications for housing loans each year. Because the number is so low, Anderson's office thinks each request should be weighed on its individual merits and not precluded because it is in a certain census tract."
“We’re just going to have to tell developers ‘you can not come into our community and destroy affordable housing displacing people without providing adequate replacement.’ And I would say what’s adequate is providing more than what’s being destroyed—according to some formula that we can develop. But we’ve always got to be making progress, we’ve always got to be taking advantage of any opportunities to provide greater affordability in terms of housing in Salt Lake City.”
" 'We used to have rail lines running through here,' Mayor Anderson said, 'and it served as an effective barrier between the east and west sides of our city. This is now stunning open space.' The park is a beautiful amenity for this revitalized area and is adjacent to The Gateway apartment and commercial complex. The 392 Gateway apartments were home to members of the news media who covered the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, but today are an important new affordable housing resource for Salt Lake City."
"The mayor and city council have a solemn duty to be responsible stewards of our neighborhoods and to achieve, through careful, innovative planning and execution: (1) sufficient mixed-income affordable — including “deeply affordable” — housing, with abundant open spaces, as is achieved in many nations around the world with nonmarket housing; (2) a standard of design excellence for a built environment we can all enjoy and of which we can all be proud; and (3) the preservation of the character of our diverse neighborhoods in all areas of our city."
"At the press event, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson spoke about the need for affordable housing, and HUD State Coordinator Julie Fagan highlighted the positive impact that the voucher program would have on the community."
" 'This is going to be remembered in history as a real turning point for how we work with those who are chronically homeless,' said Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson."
"[H]ousing authority officials were joined last week by Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon at a press conference announcing the multi-agency plan to save housing for the 90 families [from being evicted from their homes in the face of federal cutbacks to Section 8 housing]."
"[T]hrough our housing rehabilitation program, the outstanding staff in Housing and Neighborhood Development, led so ably by LuAnn Clark, completed the renovation of 155 homes throughout the city, improving their energy efficiency and water conservation, as well as the neighborhoods in which they are located."
HOW MAYORAL CANDIDATE ROCKY ANDERSON WANTS TO DEAL WITH - AND HELP - UNHOUSED UTAHNS WHO RESIST SHELTERS
"We need to get away from this neoliberal, market-based approach [to affordable housing]. It’s really corporate socialism, where we keep dumping millions of dollars into the pockets of developers in trade for a few units of affordable housing. The solution in most of the rest of the world is nonmarket housing. The city ought to be using its resources, its borrowing power to build mixed-income housing where people of all different income levels can live together, and then they pay according to their ability to pay. It’s absolutely time we do this." — Rocky Anderson
'Rocky has a plan to cap property taxes, increase green space and green energy and generate truly affordable housing. He has alternatives to raids on the homeless. He’s more a political activist than politician, more a humanitarian than bureaucrat, and more a problem solver than grandstander. Maybe he’ll even figure a way to re-curb our walkways and fill all those holes." - Calvin Jolley, Salt Lake Tribune
". . . Mayor Rocky Anderson drove a backhoe during the groundbreaking ceremony for Library Square Condominiums, an affordable housing complex with 29 units, of which six are designated for low-income buyers. . . 'I do think that there has been a downward trend in terms of the affordable housing from the ’70s up until recently,' Anderson says. '[But] we’ve been focusing very aggressively on adding components of affordable housing in just about everything we support, or in every project in which we participate.' "
"Thanks to the faith of Mayor Rocky Anderson and the City Council, the dream for upgrading the neighborhood along the light rail line is being realized."
"When Mayor Rocky Anderson stood up Friday and paid for his lunch with a speech, suggesting, 'This is going to be viewed in history as a turning point for the homeless,' Nuel Harris felt the mayor was speaking specifically about him."
"Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson's recommendations for giving city money to nonprofit groups that provide services such as low-income housing and after-school programs have left some grumbling and others cheering."
YES—I WANT TO HELP ELECT ROCKY FOR MAYOR!