A section of the Jordan River passes through Cottonwood Park and the abandoned, dilapidated campgrounds. There is currently only trash remaining; the tents will return soon. The earth is covered with a jumble of bike parts, a small gas tank, and broken huge gulp glasses. Anyone straying from the paved road near the river comes into contact with an empty syringe just a few feet away from a damaged copy of the Book of Mormon.
West-birds sense the strain that a local leader termed as a “humanitarian disaster” as they go from the huge encampment to the cleared tent sites and backs. Submitted by Leah Hogstein for The Salt Lake Tribune On Monday, August 1, 2022, you can find used needles, trash, clothing, and books close to Cottonwood Park on the Jordan River’s banks . While acknowledging the need for further action, Mayor Erin Mendenhall rejects the plan for officially recognised homeless camp
which is supported by council members who represent the hardest-hit neighbourhoods. If you ask these locals what they think about the expansion of raids in Salt Lake City down the river and to the west, they’ll probably tell you that not enough is being done by the government. Alejandro Puy, a first-year council member whose districts include Glendale, Poplar Grove, and Fairpark, said, “And we’re not doing enough.
Puy is an outspoken supporter of establishing official campgrounds in order to better connect persons who are homeless with aid and to give West Siders better access to amenities like public parks as an alternative location to live. He stated that he would like the city to look at funding, zoning, and licences for authorised camping. The existing system, the current method of addressing this issue, is good, he explained, “when someone informs you that this (legal camp) is not in our city.
A Denver model who is prosperous
Puy wants to imitate the Colorado Village Collaborative’s authorised camping programme, which is managed out of Denver. The group has three locations and provides 160 people with tents through a referral-based scheme. Campgrounds offer meals, bathrooms, laundry facilities, showers, and a method to access services for housing, employment, and healthcare. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Denver’s authorised camps, known as the Safe Outdoor Space Program, opened its doors to individuals who were forced to sleep on the streets elsewhere.
The first location, according to programme director Cuica Montoya, was a “huge, resounding success.” Despite what was perceived as somewhat grudging backing from city officials, Denver elected to expand the programme. While there is no curfew for individuals living in the camps, they are expected to abide by fundamental norms including not possessing weapons, refraining from violence, leasing pets, and agreeing to work on locating housing. In the camps, alcohol and drugs are prohibited.
Those who might have problems locating housing elsewhere, such as couples, pet owners, and those with mobility issues, are catered to at these locations, according to Montoya. This year, 100 people are anticipated to benefit from the programme, he said. Without having to go through the awful uprooting they are doing in Denver, Montoya added, “we genuinely want to create a legitimate environment for people to exist.”
A spot in the dark
Homeless people in Salt Lake City are primarily drawn to the Jordan River because it offers protection from the outside world. It’s more important to remain out of the way, according to 47-year-old Brad Gordon, than it is to hide. That is the reason I’m here, he said. I stay out of trouble because of that. preventing them from glancing at us Gordon, a convicted felon, dislikes staying in shelters but has warmed to the notion of a permitted campground.
Gordon declared, “I’ll obey their regulations all day if it means we have to put our stuff somewhere and it’s secure there and it’s not being thrown away.” Submitted by Leah Hogstein for The Salt Lake Tribune On August 1st, 2022, Brad Gordon said, “I know everyone and it’s calm to a degree. We’re down a shelter with Jordan Hawks in Cottonwood Park close to the Jordan River. Following the cops’ clearance of a camp where several people were residing, Gordon is primarily living out of a bag.
According to a research published this year by the University of Utah, people fleeing other parts of the city were forced to seek safety along the Jordan River. The report claims that in addition to offering seclusion, the river also makes it simple to access amenities including food, clean drinking water, bathrooms, dustbins, and convenience stores. Voters who had been deported claimed that there are not enough beds at homeless assistance centres and that it is frequently difficult for people to follow the laws.
However, they warned the researchers that the uncertainty brought on by the additional cleaning causes tension and anxiety to rise. Gordon claimed that when the campgrounds are swept away, at least twice a month, he and other residents of Cottonwood Park lose their belongings. If he’s there when the eviction squad shows up, he’ll make an effort to prevent his belongings from ending up in a landfill.
However, he runs the chance of receiving nothing if he works a temporary job to make enough money to eat and do laundry. We lose everything, he declared, “if we’re not there.” Submitted by Leah Hogstein for The Salt Lake Tribune On Monday, August 1, 2022, Jaden Watson and his girlfriend Madison Hackford exile on the Jordan River’s banks in Cottonwood Park.
patience wearing thin
The west-birds’ patience is being put to the test by the conditions along the river. Kara Munsey, a resident of Fairpark, said the city should provide more tools and employ harm reduction techniques that lessen the negative effects of drug use rather than ignoring or condemning it, as seen in outcomes like syringes left behind. to assist
Munsey admitted that she gives her direction of travel some thought since she didn’t want to run into someone who would expose her to a contaminated needle. Jason Seaton, a resident of Poplar Grove, stated that he wants the city to cut underbrush along the river to make it more difficult for homeless individuals to conceal themselves there. According to Seaton, the state and other localities must take action to stop drug usage and overcrowding of camps in public areas.
Because he believes it will only be permitted on the outskirts of towns, he claimed he opposes officially sanctioned camping. People have attacked me over this and dubbed me a NIMBY, he claimed. “Let me share some information with you. Right. I no longer want it in my backyard, and the reason is that it is all in my backyard. He claimed that the situation is most severe on the west side, which is separated from the rest of the city by freeways and railroad tracks.
He said that neither Sugar House nor a sizable homeless camp had been evicted from the Federal Heights or Harvard-Yale areas. They are not present. Submitted by Leah Hogstein for The Salt Lake Tribune Monday, August 1, 2022, along the Jordan River, you can see trash and used needles close to Cottonwood Park. Jordan River Commission’s executive director, Soren Simonsen, stated that he has long backed the notion of controlling the camp. It merely becomes a matter of where to put it, he explained.
The closing of overflow shelters in April, according to Simonsen, who also works for the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, resulted in a spike in persons camped out along the river. According to him, homeless people just relocate to other locations along the trail or to other cities when the camps are destroyed.
The former member of the Salt Lake City Council stated that while he favours a legal camp, a wider picture needs to be taken into consideration. We will likely be camping near the Jordan River for the foreseeable future until we can address the demands of long-term permanent supportive housing and emergency shelter beyond the capacity that we have, he added.
Mayor in question
Mendenhall admitted that she was interested in the officially recognised camps, but she doesn’t believe the strategy could work. She said that an Austin, Texas, controlled camp saw no decline in the number of on-street campers. According to Mendenhall, “it seemed to draw a new population, either to fill the void left by those who went to the sanctioned camp, or to come directly to the sanctioned camp.” According to Mendenhall, a city shouldn’t have to do anything more than oversee managed camps.
Nevertheless, Salt Lake City doesn’t receive enough assistance from the state to address what it sees as a statewide problem, and it lacks the amount of participation required to operate anything like a sanctioned camp. Submitted by Leah Hogstein for The Salt Lake Tribune On Monday, August 1, 2022, a man walking with a jug of water passes by rubbish lying along the Jordan River close to Cottonwood Park.
But she claims that the city doesn’t do nothing while the camp grows. His administration is collaborating with Salt Lake County and state partners, employing pods rather than tents to provide shelter for people during the stifling summer and winter months. The mayor said that the city had additional plans to lessen the effects of the problem, including outreach initiatives, a new park ranger programme, money for hotel rooms, legal aid, and a new quick response team to stop the growth of small camps.
Council members from the West Side raise the alarm
Puy, a councillor for District 2, claimed that while initiatives like the Rapid Response Team are admirable, they have only been able to assist a small number of people. Additionally, the Salt Lake County Health Department must intervene to evacuate the locations when the size of the encampment grows too large. Pue stated, “It’s expensive, and when the camp gets that big, it’s a great blow to the camp and the neighbours as well.
Puy stated that he is in favour of finding a means to control camping for individuals who are homeless because of this. He claimed that while it might not be the sole option, it might be helpful. He remarked, “I don’t think anything should be off the table at this time. We need to do something.” Puy stated that he intended the camps to relocate and be situated on state or city-owned property in various parts of the city.
Victoria Petro-Eschler, a first-year council member from District 1, described the camps near the Jordan River as a “humanitarian disaster” and claimed that as the residents of the homes run out of sympathy and worry about becoming homeless, pressure and anxiety are growing. People with experience suffer on a daily basis. He claimed that uncontrolled camping increases safety concerns for individuals travelling west due to its unpredictable nature.
The council member claims that camps that are approved by the law aren’t alluring. These are essential right now. We’ve reached a situation when doing that is absolutely necessary, she said. “There’s nobody else to get away from it.” Submitted by Leah Hogstein for The Salt Lake Tribune On Monday, August 1, 2022, people set up camp at a sizable shelter in Cottonwood Park.