Future of Cities: Homelessness

Future of Cities Event

Film Screening & Panel Discussion on Homelessness in SLC this Week

The PPC and Impact HUB Salt Lake invite you to a special film screening and panel discussion on homelessness in SLC.

The following 2 events are part of the #FutureofCities week-long event series, September 26-30, across fifteen North American Cities on topics of local impact. Please follow these links and plan to attend. Your awareness and educated opinion are critical to solving the problems facing Utah.


unnamedFilm Screening: Dogtown Redemption

Wednesday, September 28, 7:00-9:00 PM
Impact HUB Salt Lake, 150 S. State Street, SLC

Join us for the documentary film screening of Dogtown Redemption this Wednesday at 7:00pm.

This film explores the complex dynamics of race, class, and systemic poverty as it tells the story of four recyclers in Oakland who struggle to survive in a neighborhood already decimated by unemployment, addiction, and violence. Following the screening, film director, Amir Sotani will join us for a live Q&A about the film.


Doors Open: 7:00pm
Screening Begins: 7:30pm
The film is 60 minutes

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Town Hall: Homelessness

Thursday, September 29, 6:00-9:00PM
Impact HUB Salt Lake, 150 S. State Street, SLC

In this Town Hall, meet key players in mental health, crime, and the economy in Utah. Come learn about the complex factors of this issue and how you can co-create solutions to help our community.


  • Angela Brown | Executive Editor, SLUG Magazine


  • Shaleane Gee | Director of Special Projects & Partnerships, Salt Lake County
  • David Litvack | Deputy Chief of Staff, Salt Lake City
  • Josh Scharman | Deputy Chief of Police, SLCPD
  • Kathy Bray | President & CEO, Volunteers of America Utah
  • Matt Minkevitch | Executive Director, The Road Home
  • Bryson Garbett | Founder & President, Garbett Homes


For more information send us a message!

PPC August Membership Meeting with Mayor Ben McAdams

At the August PPC Membership meeting Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams presented a newly proposed action plan to reduce homelessness. PPC Technology Director, Sean Halls, also presents to the coalition regarding innovations in technology which could be applied to social services in America. To learn more about the Salt Lake County Process visit their site here.

Pioneer Park Choose Your Own Adventure

Wow! Quite a collection of stories in June from the press about The Pioneer Park & Downtown District. Do you guess that it is good or bad news?

Here’s a game to play called “Take Your Pick”.

It’s sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure for The Rio Grande District. It’s easy to play, just close your eyes and blindly click a link below and see where it takes you:

Tactical toilets produced locally could solve Salt Lake City’s potty problem
By CHRISTOPHER SMART | | The Salt Lake Tribune
Tuesday, Jun 8, 2016

Man arrested for assault of Salt Lake City police officer

Police investigate possible connection between Salt Lake City stabbings

Salt Lake City Council Earmarks Over Half A Million Dollars For Downtown Homeless Problem
Funds will pay for more police, new transportable toilets
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

SLC Council approves new money for portable potties, targeting homeless issues
Tuesday, JUNE 7th, 2016

Salt Lake City seeks public’s help in selecting new homeless shelter sites
By Katie McKellar | KSL News
Tuesday, Jun 7th, 2016

SLC Council looks to address human waste issue around Pioneer Park
Monday, June 6, 2016

Cop Attacked, Bitten by Homeless Man
Randal Carlisle – ABC4 Utah
Sunday, June 5, 2016

Man Found Stabbed in Front of Closed Business
Randal Carlisle – ABC 4 Utah
Sunday, June 5, 2016

How leaders in rural Utah counties are trying to end the cycles of poverty
By Marjorie Cortez – Deseret News
Saturday, June 4, 2016

Some Salt Lake City Council members seeking potties on wheels downtown
By CHRISTOPHER SMART | The Salt Lake Tribune
Friday, Jun 3, 2016

Business owners near Pioneer Park say one area can’t carry full load of SLC’s homeless
POSTED 7:04 PM, JUNE 2, 2016, BY ZACH WHITNEY – FOX 13 News

Rio Grande stakeholders demand immediate action on crime, homelessness
By Katie McKellar – Deseret News
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Editorial: More homeless left behind by Utah’s economic boom
The Salt Lake Tribune
Saturday, May 14,2016

Homelessness rose 7% in Utah last year, even as economy grew
By LEE DAVIDSON | The Salt Lake Tribune
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Audit: State doing poor job tracking job training and education cases
By ROBERT GEHRKE | The Salt Lake Tribune
Wednesday, May 11 2016

Jay Evensen: Utah’s homeless problem still rages
By Jay Evensen – Deseret News
Thursday, April 28 2016 12:15 a.m. MDT

My view: Amidst Rio Grande shooting investigation, police should be commended
By Sean Halls – For the Deseret News
Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jay Evensen: Police shooting shows how Rio Grande Street is out of control
By Jay Evensen – Deseret News
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Poll: Utahns Want to Move Homeless Shelters Away from Downtown Salt Lake City
By Bob Bernick for Utah Policy
Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Utah says it won ‘war on homelessness’, but shelters tell a different story
Maria L La Ganga – The Guardian
Wednesday 27 April 2016 10.25 EDT

Homeless Shelter Systems and What They Don’t Tell You
Carey Fuller, Homeless mother – Huffington Post
October 27, 2011


Salt Lake County is asking for more than $27 Million to reform homeless services. Will the needs of the Rio Grande neighborhood be met?


Over the past year, The Salt Lake County Collective Impact on Homelessness and the Mayor’s Commission on Homeless Site Evaluation have been hard at work to prepare a new way to fight the cycle of crime and homelessness in Utah.

As the catalyst behind the entirety of change of homeless services, the PPC has been, and will continue to be, a major factor in shaping what happens.

Salt Lake County’s HOMES Initiative asks for $27 million from the state legislature to reform homeless services. This initiative will affect Salt Lake County and the entire state.

How will this affect the Rio Grande neighborhood of Salt Lake? How do we ensure the needs and safety of our neighborhood are met?

The public is invited. Please come to discuss the initiative with your legislators and public officials. Your participation at this week’s meeting is required.


PPC Day on the Hill
Thursday, February 11th, 3:30-5:00pm
Aspen Room, East Senate Building, Utah State Capitol


Here is what we’ve got so far..

We will be in contact with you throughout this week as we gather more information about the currently developing legislation of the HOMES Initiative.

One time for two facilities: $20 million

Ongoing for facilities support and enhanced service operations: $4 million/yr

Ongoing for statewide housing prevention and diversion program: $3 million/yr

One time new private match: $10 million

Salt Lake County HOMES Initiative

The HOMES Initiative is a coordinated request among stakeholders representing all interests for legislative support and funding from the State of Utah to help achieve a common goal to minimize homelessness in Utah.To learn more about the HOMES Initiative:

Visit the Salt Lake County HOMES website. Click here.

Download the HOMES Initiative Legislative Fact Sheet. Click here.

$27M request for homeless shelters, services presents a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’
By Marjorie Cortez – Deseret News
Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016

PPC Mayoral Candidate Interview


October 2nd, 2015


Pioneer Park Coalition Mayoral Candidate Interview

Salt Lake City &mdash The October Pioneer Park Coalition meeting will feature a ’ 1 on 1 ’ conversation with both Salt Lake City Mayoral Candidates, District 4 Council Candidates and the Coalition body.

Mayoral Candidates Ralph Becker and Jackie Biskupski, as well as District 4 City Council Candidates Derek Kitchen and Nate Salazar, are scheduled to take time independently of each other in front of the Coalition.

When: Wednesday, October 7th at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Senate Committee Room 210, Senate Building, Utah State Capitol

Coalition members and media are invited to attend.

We believe the leadership and vision of the Salt Lake City Mayor is absolutely critical in solving the complex issues confronting the Pioneer Park neighborhood including: increasing public safety, reducing crime, and decreasing street-level homelessness.

The Pioneer Park Coalition is a consortium of public, private, faith-based and non-profit sector stakeholders who want to improve the quality of life in the Pioneer Park Neighborhood by developing sustainable solutions.

Follow us on Twitter (@PPC_SLC) and ’’ us on Facebook for more updates on this event.

Headlines for October PPC Meeting

Business owners, community members ‘interview’ mayoral hopefuls on conditions in Pioneer Park area
By Marjorie Cortez – Deseret News
October 7th, 2015


Townhall Meeting with Dr Robert Marbut

Robert Marbut, a subject matter expert in homeless services, has helped dozens of communities across the US. First as a volunteer, then later as a San Antonio City Councilperson/Mayor-Pro-Tem and a homeless service agency President/CEO, Dr. Robert Marbut has worked on homeless issues for more than three decades.

We feel that an outside voice, someone separated from the politics of Salt Lake, could lend invaluable insight into the issues we face downtown. As the PPC gathered data, studied, and reviewed strategies to help homelessness and crime, we took time to find a subject matter expert. Dr. Marbut offered to visit Salt Lake and speak to the Coalition on his own time and money; his visit purely informational.

Please take time to watch the recording of the town hall meeting. A follow up meeting will be held on Friday, June 5th, 3:00PM at Spy Hop Productions- 511 W 200 S, SLC. The follow up meeting will also be recorded and posted online. For more information on Dr. Marbut click here.

Editorial: Homeless services need serious reform
By Salt Lake Tribune
Saturday, May 16th, 2015

How A Traveling Consultant Helps America Hide The Homeless
By Arthur Delaney
Monday, May 9th, 2015 – Huffington Post

Cities are Hiring this Controversial Homelessness Consultant
By Alex Stevens
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 – NextCity.org

$1 Million for permanent supportive housing in Utah

For Immediate Release


The Governor’s Budget passed through the legislature, making The Pioneer Park Coalition successful in securing $1 million to reshape the face of homelessness in the State of Utah. Governor Herbert’s budget now allocates $1 million through the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund (OWHLF) to permanent supportive housing (PSH) efforts throughout the State of Utah.

As part of a plan to fundraise more than $8 million, this appropriation will help bring stability to hundreds of people’s lives by providing meaningful housing, thereby decreasing the numbers of persons on our streets. Since homelessness is an issue affecting our entire state, the OWHLF is the appropriate channel to maximize the PSH solution. Rather than relying on the local municipality who is hosting that individual to pay the bill, the state can alleviate the burden by allocating resources where they are needed most. This appropriation could serve more than 100 individuals in need throughout Utah and is one step in the process of housing.

This is not just about giving people housing; it’s about empowering the individual with responsibility. We must re-emphasize that success will not be defined solely by the number of individuals who are housed. Our success will be defined by the number of individuals who are housed that obtain identification, employment, continuing mental health treatment if necessary, and gain independency inside the community.

This effort could not happen without the many private partners, service providers, public entities and officials and residents that make up the Coalition. The Pioneer Park Coalition would like to thank Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Senator Christensen, Representative Paul Ray, Governor Gary Herbert and the community in its work towards sustainable solutions to crime and homelessness in our city. The Pioneer Park Coalition will continue to keep the community informed throughout this process.

For more information contact:

Jonathan Harman/Executive Director

Dave Kelly/Public Relations Director



The Pioneer Park Urban Design Assistance Team (Team) is convening this weekend to update and help bring to fruition concepts outlined in Salt Lake City’s 2006 Pioneer Park Master Plan. The Team is comprised of Utah’s prominent urban design community-designers, architects, landscape architects, planners and other technical specialists. The Team will focus on physical improvements to the Park and neighborhood, to support and address in part many complex community issues of the district. These issues range from homelessness, social services, drug-related crime and prostitution, to housing and neighborhood development, mobility, economic development and Salt Lake City history.

The Urban Design Assistance Team is an initiative of the Pioneer Park Coalition (Coalition) and is sponsored by the Utah Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The Team is working under the direction of and in close coordination with Salt Lake City.

The Coalition was organized one year ago, and has brought together over 250 stakeholders to bring attention, focus and resources to address issues and expand community building opportunities in the Pioneer Park neighborhood. The Coalition and its partnerships are dedicated to the revitalization of Pioneer Park and working towards effective and sustainable solutions to crime and homelessness in Salt Lake City. Their goal is to make Pioneer Park and the surrounding neighborhood family-friendly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Over a 4-day period, from Friday, February 6 through Monday, February 9, the Team will convene for an intensive design “charrette.” This work session is expected to generate 300 hours of pro-bono urban design and planning services, research and technical assistance. The 15 core team members are expected to contribute 20 or more hours each, with additional support from technical experts and volunteers before, during and after the charrette. The voluntary contributions of the Team represent a financial benefit to Salt Lake City of more than $50,000.

Salt Lake City is coordinating outreach efforts in the neighborhood and more broadly in the community. A Public Open House will be held on Thursday, February 5, from 4:00 to 7:00 pm, to launch the charrette weekend and generate public interest and input. The Open House will be held at Big-D Construction, 404 West 400 South, at the southwest corner of Pioneer Park. A second Public Open House will be held following the charrette, and more details will be available as that event is confirmed.

The public is invited to drop in and observe the Team in action throughout the weekend. The Team will be working from the offices of NWL Architects, located directly west of Pioneer Park at 336 South 400 West. Interaction with the Team during the charrette will be limited, allowing Team members to focus on their work efforts. However, an informal progress session is scheduled at 4:00 pm on Saturday, February 7, to allow an opportunity for questions and answers with the public and other stakeholders.

The AIA is the professional association of architects and the architectural profession. Community engagement and service is an important element of the AIA mission. Prior Design Assistance Team projects organized by AIA Utah include the Salt Lake City Second Century Plan, Ogden Downtown R/UDAT, Salt Lake City Downtown R/UDAT, West Valley City Center R/UDAT, Salt Lake Downtown Rising (in partnership with the Salt Lake Chamber), West Jordan DAT, Morgan Valley DAT, Cache Valley SDAT and Tremonton SDAT.

For additional information contact:

Jonathan Harman, PPC Executive Director, 801-631-1625, jonathan@thepioneerparkcoalition.org
Søren Simonsen, Architect & Urban Designer, 801-706-1055, soren@communitystudio.us
Heather Wilson, AIA Utah Executive Director, 801-532-1727, hwilson@aiautah.org
The PPC Park Subcommittee will organize a Coalition Charrette Review in the month of June to present on the UDAT findings, designs, and to address the next step for Pioneer Park development. Stay tuned!

4 Days at The Road Home



To: The Pioneer Park Coalition

From: Bryson Garbett

I buy land next to Pioneer Park to build condos and approach a local bank for a loan. They have absolutely no interest because of”all the homeless and the problems they bring to that neighborhood.” I approach another bank, one with whom I have done many business loans, and they tell me the same thing. I did not think there existed parts of Salt Lake for which banks refuse to lend, but I am wrong. The banks do not obfuscate; they will not lend in that part of town.

I then investigate what the city government is doing. They tell me they have tried before without success and that nothing can be done. I feel incredulous. The area is the gateway to the city. It is home to Salt Lake’s only downtown park. It is the neighborhood of the Gateway Mall, the Children’s Museum, the Larry Miller Arena, the Rio Grande, and many other notable businesses, shops and restaurants. Nevertheless, I find a city that has quit trying and banks that will not invest. They abandon a vital part of Salt Lake to fall into a downward spiral of decay.

I am now at a loss for what to do. I cannot build and yet I cannot simply walk away. I am convinced that the neighborhood can flourish under the right investment and care. It needs residents to give it true vitality and energy. I soon realize that banding together with all the other businesses is my only option. I know just the person to head it the Pioneer Park coalition. Scott Howell has a unmatched ability to work with people and get things done. One last pending issue troubles me. I have no real understanding of homelessness. What I see in the neighborhood is a lot a people hanging around, but I have no idea what they do or what else goes on in the streets. I know that I can never truly comprehend homelessness and all its devastating consequences, but at the very least, I want to learn about the services available to the homeless and what it is like to navigate them.

One Saturday afternoon I put away my wallet and phone- two things I never go anywhere without- pack an old duffel bag with a change of clothes, and walk out my door. No phone. No ID. No credit card.Once on Trax, in the free fare zone, I head toward town center. I spot a homeless gentleman and follow him to The Road Home. Once I arrive I know my first objective is to find a place to sleep for the night. There are plenty of people around. I do not know what to do so I to ask and am told, “Get in line there.” Only a few people are in line; most are just hanging around.

They will not let us in until 10:30pm, which is three hours away, but if I want a bed, I cannot leave the line. The fellow who pointed out the line to me soon comes over and gets in line behind me. We were line mates for the rest of the evening. “I’ve been on the streets for 5 years,” he tells me. Off and on he gets a job, loses a job, becomes homeless, and returns to the shelter. He is young and kind. His vocabulary follows the local standard with every other word a profanity, and he is not happy with his life or with being back at the shelter, but it is his fall-back and he is grateful for that.I learn that only if we are lucky we will get a bed. We are waiting for the beds that others were given earlier in the day but forfeit by not showing up at 10PM. Otherwise, the shelter will give us a pad and a blanket for sleeping on the floor. For the three hours I stand in line, I watch in amazement at what goes on around me. I am sure I am catching only a small part.

It is hard to describe the scene. Drugs quickly take the forefront- in a few hours I must see at least 45 deals. Little black bags, the size of a pill, are heroin and the pill-sized white bags are crack. Everything is a stream of anger, fear, tension, swearing, and the occasional fitful laughter. Somebody bangs on the portapotties because he has grown tired of waiting; other noises come from the toilets. There are bodies on the cement passed out, groups of homeless talking, warning calls for when police are coming, and police passing by but never approaching close. Others come, others go. All is in commotion, nothing good, and lots and lots of drugs being bought and sold.

I am staggered. These streets are controlled by the criminal drug dealers. The city and the police have no authority here. For a dollar, cigarettes filled with Spice- weeds with chemicals on them- will make you high for six hours. The little black or white bags are probably ten dollars. For three hours I watch the dealers selling unhindered. Money passes hands, then the drugs are exchanged later. Some buyers offer stolen goods such as shoes still in their boxes or clothes still with tags instead of cash. Some buyers are young college-aged kids who are clearly not homeless. I see a father pushing his daughter in a stroller make a buy.

The dealers use the line of homeless as their shield from the police. They use the homeless as their prey. I quickly realize this has to be the absolute worst place in the city for the homeless. I imagine my line mate lost his job because of his addiction, but his fall-back place is a hot-bed of temptation.

After long hours the line finally starts to move, but I am held up for just a moment by the person in front of me who is too drug-dazed to get up. The pause and my hesitation means that those with more experience behind me quickly move in front. I lose my bed.

Each person answers a few questions and then is let in. Because it is my first night, I am questioned extensively. I check my bag, go through the metal detector, and am given a very thin pad and blanket. “Find a place,” I am told brusquely as I take the blanket. “Where?” I ask. “On the floor,” she says looking at me as though I am pretty dense. I put my mat down and set my blanket down on it and head to the bathroom. The blanket is gone when I return. It is a long, noisy night on The Road Home’s lobby-room floor.  By 4:30 AM I am not rested but get up. The bathroom toilet stalls have no doors on them. I will get used to it. They are steel toilets. I am grateful for them.

I am out the door and on the streets by 6:30 AM. Now what? It is Sunday. The ever-present drug crowd is already up and active outside the door with bodies on the street passed out or asleep. I am surprised by how much is going on. I learn it never stops.

I begin talking with some of the other guys outside who, like me, have nothing to do, and learn that there will be a breakfast at 9:00 AM at Pioneer Park. It includes sermons and clothing that is given away. After breakfast, it is just before 10:00 AM, the hour they start giving the day’s beds away at the shelter. I head back to The Road Home to get in line to get a bed for the night. I wait in line for 2 hours. This time I get a bed. They apologize for putting me, an older guest, on the second bunk but I just feel grateful to get a bed. I will need to be back at my bed by 10 PM or they will give it away. Guys are already napping, some are reading, others are watching football on the TV, some go shower and clean up. It feels orderly and respectful, entirely unlike the hellish street just outside. I spend the day talking and watching and sleep well that night.

When I wake up early the next morning, the floor is covered with men who came in during the night. I leave the shelter and take trax to Home Depot on 2100 South to try to get work. When I arrive, there are about 15 guys on the curb. That number soon grows to over 30. This is where you go if you do not have documents or you have run out of other options. With documents and ID you have better options. Someone drives up in their truck and looks for someone that can do stucco. It is not a very hopeful place.

I spend the morning waiting unsuccessfully to get work and eventually give up and take trax back to The Road Home to get in line to get a bed for the night. I am successful and it feels good to have a bed again for the night. I go next door and have lunch at Vinney’s (St. Vincent): two hotdogs with french fries and a small glass of milk. I spend the afternoon at the Catholic center where there are movies, showers, and counselors. But most people just hung around outside in the street in the thick of the drugs.

I get in line with everyone else at 4:00 PM for dinner at 5:30 PM. We are served chili on top of the leftover fries from lunch with a brownie and bologna sandwich. As I get up to take my tray to the clean-up counter, I am stopped by a guy who asks if he can have my brownie. He is hungry for treats.

That night as I head back to the shelter I run the usual gauntlet of drug dealers. I am grateful I do not have to stay in line outside for three hours like the first night, and find guys watching TV, reading and sleeping inside. I try to read for a while and then go to sleep. Again, in the morning when I wake up there are guys everywhere on the floor with mats. I am out by 4:30 AM on the street. The scene is the same. I am approached three times to buy drugs. Bodies are on the ground, others are just drifting around stoned and high. Trax does not run that early so I walk back to my life and my home.

his started out as a problem I saw with Pioneer Park, but I found a much bigger problem. I found in my city the most disgusting place I have ever been in my life. The police have no control, and the homeless are the victims of the city’s ugly neglect. The Road Home and its neighboring services are where the homeless go for help, but what the homeless are surrounded with on the streets is an appalling nightmare. The crime and drugs needs to stop. If we are really interested in the homeless we cannot let it continue

Rolly: Searching for hope amid Salt Lake City’s homeless
By Paul Rolly
Monday, December 22nd, 2015 – The Salt Lake Tribune