LOCAL NEWS

‘Pod community’ will temporarily shelter 50 homeless in downtown Salt Lake City

Sep 14, 2023, 6:28 PM

photo of a Salt Lake City homeless camp...

Some homeless people who live in camps like this one in Downtown Salt Lake City may soon have a housing alternative. Mayor Erin Mendenhall and other community leaders announced a plan to create a temporary pod community for the homeless. (KSL TV)

(KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY – A lot on the corner of 600 West and 300 South in Salt Lake City could soon become a small shelter community if all goes as planned. Mayor Mendenhall, along with city council members, state legislators, and other leaders announced the idea Thursday afternoon.

The community will be made up of small pod or trailer-type units that will each house one person. It will be fenced in, and have access to porta-potties, showers, and staff that would help those staying there find more long-term solutions for their housing.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall said the hope is that it will serve as a sort of pilot program for something that can be done virtually anywhere.

“People are losing housing in every city in the state of Utah, and they shouldn’t have to leave their communities,” Mendenhall explained. “We want to see more temporary and then transitional shelter communities like this.”

There is some permitting that needs to take place, but planners believe the community can be up and running by November 2023, just as some 600-plus shelter units come open around the county for the winter.

News conference announcing the homeless community plan

Mayor Mendenhall announced the city is creating a ‘Pod community’ to temporarily shelter 50 homeless. (KSL TV)

The community would also shut down in the spring so that city leaders can have a chance to assess its effectiveness and changes that might need to be made.

Some homeless advocates are concerned that while it is a move in the right direction, more needs to be done for the thousands who still do not have affordable housing. Carl Moore, Chairperson for Unsheltered Utah said there are many others who may not qualify for the shelter community that still need help.

“If we look at this as some kind of success or reaching some kind of a goal, we’re never going to get to our end goal, which is making sure that everybody is housed, everybody is treated in a dignified way, especially here in Salt Lake City,” Moore said.

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‘Pod community’ will temporarily shelter 50 homeless in downtown Salt Lake City