Saturday, June 27, 2015

Homed in SLC

Dear Madame L,

I saw a clip from the Daily Show with a hilarious story about Salt Lake City's solution to the problem of homelessness. Why haven't other cities done something like this?

Sincerely,

Not Homeless


Dear Homed,

Thanks for the tip. I found an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the Daily Show clip and the issue of homelessness. The article begins, "Utah all too often is a punchline for Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. That wasn't the case Wednesday night."

I was able to watch the clip on the Daily Show's own website, but couldn't find a YouTube version of it to include here. You maybe be able to find it on Hulu.

From the Tribune:
Lloyd Pendleton, the director of the Utah Homeless Task Force. It focused on Utah's housing-first approach to end chronic homelessness, which stresses finding housing for a person so that medical issues, substance problems and employment can be dealt with.

Hasan Minhaj served as The Daily Show's "reporter" on the story, and he concluded the segment by saying, "So if you see a homeless person, don't feel bad. Know they can get a second shot at life. All they have to do is live in Utah."
San Francisco's SFGate online service reported last year:

What Salt Lake City did was simple: It created attractive housing that street people actually longed to live in, provided the new residents with plenty of on-site counseling to help them with problems such as drug abuse and unemployment, and put one person in charge who could get government and nonprofit agencies to work together.
I live near a large city in Oregon, where many women, including myself, are afraid to walk too early or late on the streets because of the aggressive and sometimes insane homeless people who accost pedestrians.

In fact, in that city, early one recent morning, I sat in a famous bookstore (rhymes with "Howell's" and starts with the same letter as the name of the city) with a cup of hot cocoa, and watched the homeless people wake themselves up from doorways and street corners as a city vehicle drove by. On the side of the vehicle was the proud motto, "[City Name], The City That Works." Certainly something about the city works, and certainly some people in the city work. But to say that [City Name] "works," as in, solves problem and helps its residents, is grossly inaccurate.

Then when I visited Salt Lake City recently, just as the Daily Show's Hasan Minhaj reported, I saw no homeless people on the streets. I walked into a huge bookstore in the very center of the city, bought a couple of books, and walked out again without anyone getting in my face and asking me for money. It was amazing!

Oh, I know there are still problems in Salt Lake City. In fact, the Salt Lake Tribune can be trusted to continue to point them out, as in this article.  And that's good. That's what a newspaper is supposed to do.

And the city is doing what it's supposed to do: continuing to work on the problem of homelessness, because city leaders care about the people who are homeless instead of caring about presenting a false image of a "city that works."

1 comment:

Jeff Wynn said...

Amazing. That speaks volumes on several levels, doesn't it?

Is Salt Lake City the ONLY large city without a homeless population?