Homelessness Data Dashboard | Salt Lake City | Utah

Today we want to focus on bringing your attention to a great new resource for the public in Utah. The Homelessness Data Dashboard is a great new site where everyone can get information about how well we are doing as a state to address homelessness.

We as the Pioneer Park Coalition hope this will lead to more transparency and data-driven decisions.

Homelessness Data Dashboard

The public can access the new Homelessness Data Dashboard by clicking on the link above, which will take you directly to the Utah.gov Department of Workforce Services page.

Here, users will find an easy-to-use console where one can choose different parameters to search for, such as:

veteran status
age group
household type
project type
homeless services provider

As each new parameter is chosen, the report on the dashboard will update, displaying information such as:

The number of people accessing services
Year to Year trends
The number of people exiting the system
Percentile comparisons to the previous period
Overall people in the homelessness database
And more.

As an example, when I accessed the dashboard today, I selected the dates of January 1st, 2017-December 10th, 2017.

Under subpopulation, I selected “Salt Lake” for the COC, “All” for Veteran Status, “All” for Age Group, “Persons in Families” for Household Type.

Under Project & Provider, I selected “All” for Project Type and “The Road Home” for Provider.

Essentially, I wanted to take a snapshot of people in families experiencing homelessness anytime during 2017 who utilized The Road Home.

Here is what the dashboard looks like with those parameters:

Homelessness Data Dashboard for the State of Utah

I liked the way everything was very clear and concise. When I hover over different parts of the report, more information about what exactly I am seeing pops up.

From this report, I can deduce that 3,852 people in my subgroups accessed services from The Road Home in 2017, which is down 1% from the previous period (in my case, January-December 2016). I can also see that 1,928 people in my subgroup exited the system through The Road Home. This is down 34% over the previous period (or year, in our example).

I can quickly deduce from this that about the same number of people in my subgroup accessed services in 2017 as in 2016. However, far less people exited the system then they did in the previous year. I can also see that the majority of those exiting the system ended up in the “other” category…which basically means “we don’t know.” However, 32% ended up in permanent housing, which is always the goal.

We encourage the public to use this tool and hope that as transparency increases, accountability and interest will as well. We would love to hear any of your thoughts on this new system. Feel free to send your comments to us here.


Pioneer Park Improvements | Salt Lake City | Utah | Please Donate

Many of your have heard about the Pioneer Park Coalition’s $300,000 donation to Salt Lake City for Pioneer Park improvements. If you haven’t, you can read more about the money we have committed so far here.

This donation is going directly to this winter’s planned improvements for Pioneer Park, specifically the lighted walkway around a new multi-use sports field.

We are excited and proud that we have been about to accomplish an incredible amount in just three short years. You have helped us create the momentum! But we know that this $300k is just a drop in the bucket. We rely on continued membership and donations to continue to build our vision of a public-private partnership of a park that is the crowned jewel of Salt Lake City.

Pioneer Park Improvements | Salt Lake City | Please Donate

We are modeling our vision for the park off other major cities who have accomplished this. Namely, Bryant Park in New York City and Millennium Park in Chicago. You can read more about our vision in a previous post here.

2017 has been a huge year for our Salt Lake City neighborhood. Think about it. Newspaper headlines dominated by our neighborhood. Elected officials courageously tackling what was previously thought to be a quagmire. Homeless services significantly transforming with the development of three new resource centers and the closure of the downtown shelter. Operation Rio Grande dramatically changing the culture and feel of what has been the city’s most crime-ridden neighborhood. A Medicaid waiver helping thousands of needy Utahns. And major upgrades slated for the park itself this winter.

Again, we are amazed by what we have done in such a short time. We plan to continue our vision in the coming year, working towards a safe, inclusive neighborhood that is inviting to all, 24/7.

Will you please help now by donating to the PPC before year’s end? All donations are fully tax deductible!

Visit our website and donate here.

Thank You, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

Operation Rio Grande Update | November 2 | Medicaid Waiver | ID Cards

The Pioneer Park Coalition received the following email today from Utah Dept. of Workforce Services. To receive your own Operation Rio Grande updates, click the link at the bottom of the email.

Operation Rio Grande Update | Medicaid Waiver | ID Cards

Two significant events have occurred since the last update. First, the Medicaid waiver was approved for the state of Utah. Second, the safe space began requiring the coordinated service card for access into the area. Both of these developments are significant components of phases one and two of the operation. A lot of work from several partners made each of these achievements take place.

For more details, view the updates below:

Medicaid Waiver

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its approval of Utah’s Medicaid waiver. This announcement is critical to phase two of Operation Rio Grande in order for more treatment centers to begin offering services for Medicaid members. For more information, click here. For the Department of Health’s Frequently Asked Questions document, click here.

Medicaid Waivers for Utah

Media Coverage:

The Salt Lake Tribune

Deseret News

Fox 13



Safe Space Courtyard

On Friday, Oct. 27, the Safe Space Courtyard began requiring the coordinated services card for access into the area. With fencing up, card stations ready to go, tent and tables installed, and staffing ready, the space began operations. So far, 1,475 coordinated services cards have been distributed with 192 of them being reissued cards.

Department of Workforce Services has coordinated closely with The Road Home and Catholic Community Services on card access points. With the opening of the Safe Space Courtyard, Workforce Services’ staff have made the point to listen to individuals receiving cards, find out concerns and make accommodations when appropriate.

ID Card checkpoint at Safe Space on Rio Grande Rio Grand Safe Space Rio Grand Safe Space in Salt Lake
Media coverage:


Law Enforcement
  • Department of Public Safety (DPS) continues to do outreach to people who live in the Rio Grande area and to neighboring communities. Three meetings have been conducted to answer questions, discuss any concerns and collect input. These meetings are going a long way with better relationships between law enforcement those utilizing services in the area. For a complete DPS update, click here.
  • Make sure to watch the DPS video about safer access to services. Click below:


Additional Updates

  • The next assessment day at the Salt Lake County Jail is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9 for the purpose of identifying candidates for drug court. So far, more than 80 assessments have been completed with over 400 individuals screened. The retention rate for individuals who have successfully gone before the drug court is at 80 percent.
  • Cleanup efforts of encampments along the Jordan River Parkway and other known locations has resulted in more than 200 tons of garbage being removed. This week is the final week of clean up before the winter season. However, the team is currently working on a winter action plan.
  • Salt Lake County Health Department would like to thank all the volunteers and specifically the Utah Department of Corrections and the Utah Department of Transportation. Both played a vital role in the cleanup process.
  • Jordan River Parkway Cleanup

Click here to subscribe to our email list.

Copyright © 2017 Utah Department of Workforce Services, All rights reserved.
The purpose of the email newsletter is to help you stay informed
on activities related to Operation Rio Grande.

Our mailing address is:

Utah Department of Workforce Services

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

PPC Salt Lake Mayoral Debate 2015


June 22, 2015

Contact: Jonathan Harman, Pioneer Park Coalition director

Cell phone: 801-631-1625



Pioneer Park Coalition to host Salt Lake City mayoral debate


SALT LAKE CITY – Candidates for the 2015 Salt Lake City mayoral race have agreed to participate in a debate sponsored by the Pioneer Park Coalition on Wednesday, July 1st at 4:00 p.m. at KSL 5 TV Studios, located at 5 Triad Center (55 North 3rd West Salt Lake City, UT 84180-1109).

Doug Wright will moderate the debate among candidates Ralph Becker, Jackie Biskupski, George Chapman, Luke Garrott, and Dave Robinson.

Coalition members and media are invited to attend. You can request tickets by contacting Jonathan Harmon at the phone number or email listed above. The doors will open at 3:15 p.m. and close at 3:45 p.m.

For those who cannot attend, the debate will also broadcast live on KSL 5 TV and KSL Newsradio 1160 AM, 102.7 FM.

We believe the leadership 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 LIKE us on Facebook for more updates on this event.

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


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