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Homeless in the SLC Valley: cities finding issues with new residents

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Homeless in the SLC Valley: cities finding issues with new residents (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) - Surrounding towns are trying to figure out how to provide resources for the influx of unhoused people since Salt Lake City instituted Operation Rio Grande about six months ago.

Midvale council member Dustin Gettel said many homeless families have come to his town to use services at the Road Home.

Josh, a recently divorced single father, moved into the shelter 2 months ago with his 10-year-old daughter.

"Everyone here's struggling,” he said. "Way overcrowded. It's alright, but not somewhere you'd want to raise your kids."

Josh said Operation Rio Grande did yield some positive results, but the system is not completely fixed.

"Less drugs on the street, more families coming here."

Gettel agreed more research needs to be done to find and develop sustainable solutions for housing.

"Transient activity has increased in Midvale over the last 2-3 months,” said Gettel. "Operation Rio Grande has only been going on for a few months, and the effects are just being felt now in the suburbs. So I think the compiling of data is going to be crucial in determining what our next steps are going to be."

Nate McDonald works for the Department of Workforce Services, an agency that helped implement Operation Rio Grande. He said state agencies anticipated the dispersion of unhoused people to the suburbs and they provided resources to municipalities.

"It's an ongoing outreach effort they're doing right now."

McDonald said agencies like Utah Highway Patrol have been and continue to be available to assist and educate local law enforcement in how to deal with an increase in transient population as a result of Operation Rio Grande.

Gettel said he had seen an increase in crime since the operation.

While Gettel favors the three additional officers, UPD is currently requesting the funding to put them in place.

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