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Downtown Alliance to fund 'street team' to help relieve homeless issues

The Deseret News - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 8:20pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Determined to help reduce issues associated with Salt Lake City's overwhelmed homeless shelter, downtown business leaders are stepping in.

Their plan: a paid "street team" with backgrounds in social work roaming the streets of downtown Salt Lake City — some on bikes, others on Segways — doing everything from scrubbing graffiti to asking the nearby panhandler, "How can I help?"

The Downtown Alliance is gearing up to contract with New York-based StreetPlus, a cleaning, social service outreach and safety services contractor that's currently serving more than 65 improvement districts across the U.S. — including areas in Los Angeles and Chicago.

"We think it's a very inexpensive way to address some of the challenges we have right now relative to homelessness and panhandling, and really a way to create a safer and more welcoming downtown area," Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance, said.

Mathis said Downtown Alliance intends to implement the pilot program this year. It's expected to cost about $315,000 to fund the five-member team annually.

The alliance — largely funded by a voluntary property tax on downtown businesses — has already budgeted about $100,000 for the program, Mathis said, while the remainder is expected to be raised in donations from downtown businesses.

The aim is to provide extra assistance to alleviate pressures on downtown's business community while waiting for Salt Lake City's new homeless service delivery model to be fully implemented. Three new homeless resource centers meant to break up downtown's 1,100-bed homeless shelter are expected to be built over the next couple of years.

The program likely won't impact the areas near 500 West, where the Road Home population is most concentrated since the area is already saturated with homeless services, Mathis said. Rather, the team will focus on helping other downtown business areas such as Main Street, Broadway and The Gateway.

"Long term it will help to create a more welcoming, comfortable and safe downtown for everyone," Mathis said. "This is really about an expanded program for everyone, not just homeless people."

While the team will be there to help connect people in need to homeless services, Mathis said they will also be there to act as a "roving concierge" for visitors and conventiongoers, helping with directions or even dinner reservations.

Camille Winnie, a consultant for the Downtown Alliance who's been working on the project, said the program won't be "just a response to homelessness" but an effort to generally make downtown Salt Lake City "a safe, clean and friendly environment for everyone."

The safety "ambassadors" and social outreach workers would be paid between $11.75 and $21.50 an hour, depending on whether they also assume the roles as team supervisors.

Winnie said at least one team member will be a certified social worker, while others on the team are expected to have some form of social service background.

They won't be trained law enforcement officers, Winnie said, but they will "communicate regularly" with Salt Lake police and local homeless service providers.

"We are additional eyes and ears. We are not police," said Steve Hillard, president of StreetPlus, while presenting the program to local business leaders this week. "We're there to help control the environment and when we need to, we call professionals in to handle situations."

In Chicago, the StreetPlus team called the Chicago Loop Alliance provided more than 4,200 service referrals in 2016 and helped nearly 100 people get off the streets and into various programs, according to StreetPlus data.

Hillard expects the program to "make a huge difference" in Salt Lake City.

They key, he said, is "constant interaction" with individuals in need.

"We learn who they are and what their issues are — what works and doesn't work," Hillard said. "Then we're able to be there when they make that decision that they need help."

Trump Fires Warning Shot in Battle Between Bannon and Kushner

New York Times - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 7:13pm
Mr. Trump is considering a shift in roles for his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, who has become isolated as other White House power centers have grown.

Syrian Refugees Laud U.S. Strike and, in ‘New Emotion,’ Trump

New York Times - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 4:21pm
Some Syrians who fled their homeland for America found themselves in a puzzling spot: appreciating a president whose travel ban they have denounced.

But Is It Art? In the Case of ‘Doggie Hamlet,’ Yes

New York Times - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 3:00am
A dance critic looks at a work by Ann Carlson with sheep, dogs and performers in a meadow that has been called out as a silly use of taxpayer money. Is it?

Japenese Students get U.S. Experience

The Daily Universe - Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:11am
Eager to have an American educational experience, 235 students from the all-male Nishiyamato Junior High School in Osaka, Japan, participated in 'BYU Day' as part of the school's eighteenth annual trip to the U.S.

More College Students Voting

The Daily Universe - Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:11am
According to the U.S. Census, about 42 percent of those aged 18 to 24 voted in the 2004 presidential elections. The majority of votes in that demographic came from students enrolled in a college or university.

New Voting Technology Seeks to be More Reliable

The Daily Universe - Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:11am
Utah voters across the state are using a touch-screen voting system, the AccuVote TSx terminal, for the first time in a presidential election.

Hall Garners Another Conference Award

The Daily Universe - Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:11am
For the third time this season, BYU quarterback Max Hall has been named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Miller Fishing for Success in Father's Shadow

The Daily Universe - Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:11am
Todd Miller, son of PGA legend and NBC commentator Johnny Miller, said growing up he enjoyed bass fishing with his dad before tournaments. Miller is entering his fourth year as the assistant men's golf coach at BYU.

Industrial Design major Applies Creativity, Ability

The Daily Universe - Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:11am
Industrial design is a revolutionary profession that requires creativity, visual skills and tolerance for ambiguity.

Campus Librarians Join Blogging Arena

The Daily Universe - Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:10am
Blogs' popularity is reaching librarians. The Harold B. Lee Library is running its new Juvenile Literature blog, created to support social science students and faculty.

Restoration Targets Hill South of Campus

The Daily Universe - Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:10am
Construction on the hillside stretching from the Hinckley Building to south campus is not decimation, but restoration, according to BYU officials.

Cougars fight off Rebels in old-fashioned WAC shootout

The Daily Universe - Mon, 10/27/2008 - 7:11am
Fresh and familiar faces combined to help No. 18 BYU preserve its home unbeaten streak in what turned out to be a nail-biter of a finish and a shootout.

Battle of the Bands brings good music and cheering fans

The Daily Universe - Mon, 10/27/2008 - 7:11am
Anticipation filled the air while the crowd waited anxiously to find out who would win BYU's fall Battle of the Bands competition, which took place Saturday night.

BYU vs. UNLV Notebook

The Daily Universe - Mon, 10/27/2008 - 7:11am
For the first time in weeks, the Cougar offense didn't seem like it was sleep-walking through the first part of the game.

BYU golf heads for sunnier pastures

The Daily Universe - Mon, 10/27/2008 - 7:11am
Both of the BYU's golf teams are on the green. The men are competing at the Baylor Intercollegiate tournament until Tuesday, while the women are at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown until Wednesday. Both anticipate representing the Cougars well.

BYU faces ups and downs as heading into second half of MWC play

The Daily Universe - Mon, 10/27/2008 - 7:11am
The BYU women's volleyball team had some ups and downs this weekend on the road, winning at Air Force on Wednesday and losing to No. 3 Texas on Friday in three sets 25-11, 25-16, 25-19.

The 'demon barber' comes to Provo

The Daily Universe - Mon, 10/27/2008 - 7:11am
The Actor's Repertory Theater Ensemble presents 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' through Oct. 31 at the Castle Amphitheater, located at 1300 E. Center Street in Provo. Tickets are $10 and $7 for students.

Students giving the grade

The Daily Universe - Mon, 10/27/2008 - 7:11am
While ratemyprofessor.com is a helpful online tool when selecting next semester's teachers, students at BYU now have an online evaluation system of their own.

Rotaract collecting books to aid Korea

The Daily Universe - Mon, 10/27/2008 - 7:11am
Rotaract, a Marriott School-sponsored club and extension of the International Rotary Club, is assembling efforts to ship used textbooks to North Korea.
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