Environmental Dispute Resolution Program Assesses SLC Homeless Issues in New Report

March 13, 2014—After interviewing more than 60 disparate stakeholders and undertaking extensive research, the Wallace Stegner Center Environmental Dispute Resolution Program’s Situation Assessment Team has compiled the results into a new report addressing homelessness and related issues in downtown Salt Lake City. Click here to read the full report, including the executive summary.  Click here to read the Appendices.

Conducted for the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office and Community and Economic Development, the Situation Assessment of Homeless Issues in Downtown Salt Lake City incorporates input from all levels of government, business, area residents, law enforcement, homeless service providers and homeless individuals. The report explores public perceptions and existing efforts to address homelessness and identifies opportunities for collaboration and increased coordination among stakeholders, with particular focus on Salt Lake City government’s role.

The report suggests that to “end” homelessness, efforts in Utah need to extend beyond providing housing to the chronic and veteran homeless populations.  The team’s interview results reflect that each sub-population of homeless individuals (including homeless youth and families with children) has unique needs.  The authors write that “efforts in Utah need to address four stages of homelessness:

  • Preventing homelessness — broad strategies that could significantly reduce the numbers of individuals falling into homelessness;
  • Homelessness – daily life while an individual is experiencing homelessness;
  • Transcending homelessness — taking steps to find housing, employment and other needed services; and
  • Preventing recurrence of homelessness — providing supportive services as needed after housing has been secured to prevent individuals from going through multiple rounds of homelessness. “

The report was authored by Professor Michele Straube and 3L Jason Steiert.  Steiert, 3L Haley Carmer and Environmental Clinic Director Jamie Pleune served as researchers and editors. The interviews were conducted by 2L Melissa Reynolds and 3L Shane Stroud, as well as Straube, Carmer and Steiert.

Straube said, “The Situation Assessment Team very much appreciate the time and thoughtfulness of all who contributed to helping us assess existing perceptions and opportunities for increased collaboration around these challenging issues. We were humbled by the compassion, commitment and creativity we encountered in every interview, and have great confidence that our community can and will continue to make significant progress on addressing homelessness and related issues. “