“Last night’s town hall, hosted by Impact Hub Salt Lake and presented by the The Pioneer Park Coalition was just what the doctor ordered—especially given the joint City/County intervention on Rio Grande Street, in the wee hours of yesterday morning.

On the stage was moderator Angela Brown of SLUG Magazine and Craft Lake City fame; Matt Minkevich, executive director of The Road Home; Shaleane Gee, from Salt Lake County; Pioneer Park Coalition president Bryson Garbett; Kathy Bray, from Utah’s chapter of Volunteers of America; Josh Sharman, from the Salt Lake City Police Department; and David Litvack, representing Mayor Jackie Biskupski. Each introduced themselves briefly (or, not so briefly, as the case may be) and then the Angela jumped in with questions…

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The panelists first tackled the intervention on Rio Grande Street. We learned that it was a large, multi-agency, City-County collaboration, three months in the planning—with dozens of public safety personnel and a small army of social workers and other service providers. The general thrust of the operation was to triage the situation—arresting violent offenders and getting those who’ve committed crimes to support a drug habit or to self-medicate a mental health condition the necessary treatment.

After discussing the intervention, panelists moved on to discuss the scope, timeline, and objectives of the City/County homeless services initiative—the much discussed program to replace the Road Home with two new, purpose-built, resource centers.



The formal Q&A then transitioned into comments and questions from the audience. It was a wonderful cross-section of the community—featuring former homeless service clients, community organizers, and even an employee of The Road Home who made an impassioned (and persuasive) plea to find specific solutions for the elderly homeless, who “simply didn’t fit the model of emergency shelter care”. The final comments coming from a young woman who rallied us to move through our differences and to find lasting solutions.

It was encouraging to see the panelists and audience members mingling for a while, afterwards, chatting and exchanging contact details.

Now THAT’S the sign of a successful town hall.”

Photo Credit:

Header photo: jacobinmag.com

Town Hall photos: @dustinhaggett



D Christian Harrison is the President and Chair of the Downtown Community Council, a former Commissioner of the Homeless Services Site Commission (under Mayor Becker), and Chair of the Utah Transit Riders Union. He’s lived and worked in Salt Lake City for more than a decade.