Sanctioned homeless camp coming to Station Center in west Downtown

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We now know the site of the Salt Lake City’s first sanctioned camp for people experiencing homelessness: Redevelopment Agency-owned land at the development site known as Station Center.

The northeast corner of 300 South and 600 West is at the center of future development plans of UTA, the RDA, and private land owners who have been trying to get projects out of the ground for over a decade.

State and city leaders are holding a press conference today at 2:15pm at the site to announce their plans. Here’s what we know from multiple sources inside city hall.

UPDATE: You can read the Mayor’s press release here.

Denver model

The site will be in effect for only six months, after which the state has pledged to find another location on state-owned land. According to a source familiar with the matter, that is likely to be under a freeway overpass on UDOT property.

The site will be limited to 50 campers, who will be vetted by an operator that the state will be hiring. People will be housed in individual shelters that resemble both a tent and shed, which will have electricity, heating and air conditioning. Bathrooms will be communal, and it is unclear whether there will also be kitchen facilities.

The shelters are collapsible so they can be moved and stored relatively easily, said a source.

Denver, during COVID, inaugurated its SOS sites—Safe Outdoor Spaces—and has made them a permanent part of its housing policy. According to a source, Denver camps are limited to 40 people, and impressed policy makers at City Hall with their relatively low impact on the neighborhoods they’re in.

Spreading out the sites to the county

City officials are hoping the sanctioned camp will be a demonstration for other cities in the valley to follow. Getting other municipalities to contribute to emergency and transitional housing solutions has long been a priority of the Mayor’s office.

Funding for the camp will come from the state, which is contributing $1 million, while the city council is chipping in $500,000 it recently approved for homelessness solutions. It likely won’t be enough, a source said.

“If this is a success, it may be possible to have more of these around the county,” a source told us.

“Hopefully other communities around the county will embrace it.”

Mayor Erin Mendenhall, the state Homeless Coordinator Wayne Niederhauser, UTA Board Chair Carlton Christensen, and Council Member Victoria Petro will headline the press event at 2:15.

UPDATE: The city’s webpage for the Temporary Shelter Community can be found here. You can read the Mayor’s press release here.

Email Luke Garrott

Interested in seeing where developers are proposing and building new apartments in Salt Lake, or just want to support a local source of news on what’s happening in your neighborhood? Subscribe to Building Salt Lake.

Posted by Luke Garrott

Luke Garrott, PhD, has published in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, and written features for the Salt Lake City Weekly City Guide and The West View. A former two-term councilman in Salt Lake City's District 4, he lives in Downtown Salt Lake City and grew up in the Chicago area.