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Gateway residents concerned by Catholic Community Services expansion

By Chris Arnold

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    SALT LAKE CITY (KSTU) — A large group of Gateway residents and businesses took their concerns about the impact of the unsheltered population in the area to the city.

A Town Hall was hosted by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall Thursday afternoon.

“This is part of a long hard dialogue about homelessness, and this is an interesting community,” said Kate Kopischke, a condo owner in the Gateway. “I think a lot of this, maybe even the impetus for this conversation started with a proposal to expand the Weigand Center.”

Something, Kopischke says, comes with concerns about what that could mean for the neighborhood.

“It’s already super impacted with litter and there’s all manner of trash and shoes and clothing and needles on the street that blows down the street and can’t ride your bike on the Folsom Trail without having to navigate people,” said Kopischke.

Residents are advocating for the city to begin immediate enforcement of unsanctioned camping and loitering in the neighborhood.

“It was probably 2019 or maybe early 2020 the city was very much feeling alone in talking about with homeless services,” said Mayor Mendenhall.

Mayor Mendenhall was joined by Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown and Wayne Niederhauser, the Director of the State Office of Homeless Services, as well as Andrew Johnston, the Director of Homeless Policy in Salt Lake for the Town Hall meeting.

“If we have more housing, we could move them into housing,” said Johnston. “We need partnerships.”

FOX 13 News received this statement from Catholic Community Services of Utah:

“The Weigand Resource Center is undergoing renovations that will update the building and add 6,000 square feet to the facility. The upgrades being made to the facility will allow us to continue providing vital services to those experiencing homelessness in a more effective way. It will also allow us the space to establish both walk in and long-term mental health services onsite. At Catholic Community Services of Utah, we value being a good neighbor to everyone in our community. For this reason, we have had open communication with those in the area who are concerned about these renovations and are working together to resolve those concerns.”

“The mayor talked a lot about some of the creative solutions, I think people needed to hear that and we need to just get more engaged,” said Kopischke.

No decisions were made at the Town Hall meeting on Thursday.

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