Students share Sugar House homeless shelter site opinions

Earlier this year, Salt Lake City determined not to move forward with a site on Simpson Avenue in Sugar House that had been under consideration for a new homeless shelter. Though the conversation about homeless shelters has since moved away from Sugar House, some students said the backlash from residents when the site was under consideration point to larger societal problems in views of individuals experiencing homelessness. Read what they had to say here:

Name: Sterling Johnson
Major: Public Health
Year: Senior

“Residents of Sugarhouse seem to be pretty ignorant and stigmatizing about the homeless population. People are concerned about their kids not having a place to play or that they won’t be able to ride their bike to work, that’s unfair and ignorant and us taking advantage of vulnerable populations. Sugarhouse also has an abundance of resources and putting the shelter here provides access to those resources.”

Name: Warren Cook
Major: History and Honors
Year: Senior

“In our capitalist society we try to pretend that we don’t have homelessness, so residents of affluent communities don’t want to acknowledge that we have plenty of impoverished people living among us. I think that there are probably other confounding factors that people don’t want the shelter in Sugarhouse but I think it’s just denial, and this tendency within our system to deny that there is anything wrong with it.”

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Name: Juan Pablo Lopez
Major: Marketting
Year: Junior

“I’m pretty disappointed that Sugarhouse decided to not have a homeless shelter in the area because we have a brand new building that was built for senior citizens and I feel like this community tries to portray itself as accepting of people’s views and for them to vote to not have a homeless shelter here is very backwards to me.”

Name: Jac'lyn Bera
Major: First-Year
Year: Psychology

“Its definitely an issue that needs to be addressed because the homeless population in Utah keeps growing every year. As for location, I don’t really know enough about the issue to really have a standing beyond that it is a problem that should be addressed both in humanitarian efforts and through our political system.”

Name: Lancee Whetman
Major: Economics
Year: Senior

“I don’t know where else they would put this proposed shelter if it wasn’t in Sugarhouse. I understand that residents have complained however I think they should take into consideration this population in the planning of the shelter in Sugarhouse.”

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Name: Grace Nakamura
Major: Nursing
Year: First-Year 

“I feel like people should treat the homeless shelter like they would their own animals, they are humans too. They shouldn’t say rude things like ‘I don’t want them living next to me’, they have to go somewhere and it doesn’t really matter where they go as long as it’s safe for everybody.”

Name: Palak Jayswal
Major: English and Journalism
Year: First-Year

“The shelter has to go somewhere, and I don’t really think it matters where as long as the people are getting taken care of. If they were to stick it in any part of town, people are going to freak out, so I think as long as we can take care of those that are less fortunate it’s important and I don’t think it should really matter where it is.”

Name: Kaydee Gilson
Major: Marketing Major and Applied Computing Minor
Year: Junior

“It seems hypocritical that people truly want to help the homeless population. People will give money or food and hope that they can find a place off the streets but now there is an opportunity to actually help them have a place to go but people are opposed because it is in their own backyard. If not in Sugarhouse, where?”

Name: Jazmin May
Major: Communication
Year: Sophomore

“I think it’s stupid just for the fact that if they are trying to be as progressive as they say, and they aren’t trying to help out. I think personally, I live 5 minutes away from Gateway and a lot of homeless people live right there so I think it’s really dumb if we are trying to make that change and Sugarhouse is just not.”

Name: Jasmynn Velez
Major: Communication
Year: First-Year

“I don’t see a problem with the shelter in Sugarhouse. I get that people are worried about real estate issues but I think it would be helpful because Salt Lake is very overpopulated with homeless people.”

Name: Calen Smith
Major: Neuroscience
Year: Sophomore

“I think that in Sugarhouse, as well as everywhere in the United States, we have a sense of entitlement and while we all like to feel like we are doing parts for the homeless population, this ‘not in my backyard mentality’ is only furthering the stigma and not helping anybody.”

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Name: Cassandra Yerkes
Major: Art Administration Major and Fine Arts Minor
Year: Junior

“I didn’t realize that the shelter didn’t get approved, I thought they were actually building one and I am shocked to hear that people in the Sugarhouse community are selfish enough to not accept a homeless shelter, which would keep homeless people off the streets and would keep them ‘out of sight’ if that’s really the issue that people have with the homeless population.”

Name: Taylor Gustafson
Major: Elementary Education
Year: Junior

“I don’t think that Sugarhouse has services that cater to the homeless population.”

Name: Claire Bruce
Major: Elementary Education
Year: Senior

“I can see both sides of the argument because I agree that the homeless population needs somewhere but I think that it needs to be somewhere that they can really make something for themselves and have a place to live and have services and grow and I think that Sugarhouse isn’t that.”