Erin Mendenhall, the mayor of Salt Lake City, presented an ambitious plan on Thursday to begin developing a master-planned small home neighbourhood to accommodate the homeless and have some units ready for habitation by winter this year. The Other Side Academy, a well-known nonprofit that has a track record of assisting people who are homeless, struggling with substance abuse, or who have a criminal record to turn their lives around, all “while being a positive neighbour,” was chosen by the mayor as the partner organisation in order to pull it off.
Mendenhall stated at a press conference held in front of the Salt Lake City County building that “this is a significant stride forward in this project.” Given the size and urgency of the problem we had to face, we are currently moving at the speed of light. In less than a year, it went from conception to completion. And I believe that demonstrates this capital city’s and our allies’ resolve to address the complexity and reality of the challenges relating to homelessness.
The Other Side Academy, a provider with a residential programme already running in Salt Lake City’s Central City neighbourhood, is a “partner that is dedicated to the success and empowerment of its present students,” the mayor stated. They have a demonstrated history of running a peer-based community well and contributing to both their community and the city, according to Mendenhall
And I’m confident that their dedication and drive for achievement will translate to their work on The Other Side Village.Mendenhall’s announcement comes after the Deseret News revealed that the mayor was considering constructing a tiny home community modelled after one in Austin, Texas, Community First! Village. That community was established by the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes after years of arduous not-in-my-backyard battles.
The Texas tiny home town is famous around the country for its beautiful neighbourhood atmosphere, its oddball homes in all shapes and sizes, its paved roads, and its well-kept gardens, lawns, and patio areas. It’s not just a collection of little houses that has a KOA campground-like atmosphere, though. Additionally, the community offers tenants access to comprehensive social services, communal kitchen and restroom facilities, a store, and workshops where they may acquire skills like metal work, ceramics, painting, and auto repair.
There, the residents support themselves through occupations in landscaping, gardening, and lawn mowing. “We have have to think creatively to step outside the box and to get more people sheltered, and a tiny home community is one way that we can better serve our folks who are unhoused,” Mendenhall said. The size and complexity of the problems our residents who are homeless in Salt Lake City are confronting should be matched by the ambition of our inventiveness.
There is no magic solution. There isn’t a single, universal remedy for homelessness, the speaker said. “However, this innovative, ground-breaking strategy, which is a first for our state, might result in a significant improvement to the range of services we are now able to provide for persons who are homeless.”
Cost and place
The town in Texas is also pricey. With ambitions to go beyond 51 acres, it will cost more than $45 million. The hamlet, which consisted of around 100 RV/park homes and 130 micro dwellings, was 27 acres when the Deseret News visited the area in October of last year. An further 310 dwellings were anticipated to be built there in the future.
It is planned to eventually build 400 to 500 homes on 30 to 40 acres for The Other Side Village in Salt Lake City. Although not all of those homes, the mayor expects some of them to be open by this fall. But Mendenhall said there are certain specifics that still need to be worked out, such the project’s location and overall cost.The mayor told reporters that she couldn’t yet answer such issues, but added that the city might be able to pay for it with $87 million.
The most recent COVID-19 federal relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act is scheduled to go to Salt Lake City. The prices will become more clear as we move closer to deciding where this hamlet would be located in the city, according to Mendenhall.The mayor continued, “I will say that the general public has shown a great deal of interest. Not just philanthropic interest, but also the desire to be involved on the part of the construction and architectural communities, I believe. To start accepting donations, the website theothersidevillage.com has already been launched.
Other Side culture
Grenny recognised that constructing the “infrastructure” for a community of small homes by itself “doesn’t alleviate the problem” of homelessness. Tiny dwellings are a fantastic idea, he said. But if the correct culture isn’t in place, tiny homes “may turn out to be a tiny disaster at some point.” In Grenny’s words, “we know certain things about building a strong, inclusive, caring, and virtuous community,” which is why we think our nonprofit has a role to play in this initiative.
The seven men and women standing behind me,” Grenny added, gesturing to several Other Side students who attended the news conference on Thursday, “have lived on our streets for a combined 45 years.” They moved into a historic house in the heart of Salt Lake City five years ago with roughly 100 of their siblings.
Grenny said, “you’d think having 100 people with such profound challenges move into a historic downtown neighbourhood would be a recipe for disaster.” She noted that the average student at Other Side has been arrested over 25 times, and nearly all have long histories of addiction, crime, or homelessness.