The Salt Lake Chamber and business leaders are strongly urging the Utah legislature to support Governor Cox’s comprehensive homelessness appropriation budget requests

The budget, which supports Utah’s comprehensive statewide Plan to Address Homelessness was developed in collaboration with state agencies and the support of hundreds of community leaders, including the Utah Impact Partnership. At a press conference held downtown, business leaders gathered to share the positive changes they’ve seen already. 

“We have witnessed the success of this type of approach,” says Derek Miller, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “Over the past six months, Salt Lake City has experienced marked improvements in street safety and the reduction of street camping.” This improvement is thanks, in part, to the 600 temporary winter shelter beds and increased enforcement of no camping laws that those additional beds enable. Hotels, restaurants, and merchants have experienced improved conditions surrounding their businesses as these temporary measures have reduced the number of encampments and interference with customers. 

Additionally, one of downtown’s largest employers reported a 33 percent decrease in crime in SLC, as they measure crime statistics in all the cities where they operate. Downtown visitation was also up 14 percent in 2023 year-over-year, according to Downtown Alliance mobile phone tracking data.

“While our retailers and customers have expressed great concern regarding the homeless population, we recognize that we all have a role in solving this issue,” said Linda Wardell, general manager of City Creek Center. “Our legislature must act now. We have seen the impact that can be made when adequate support, resources and enforcement are provided.” 

While Salt Lake City bears a disproportionate burden of homelessness, this challenge does not impact the Capital City alone. Utah’s incidence of homelessness increased 23 percent last year. As a statewide business association, the Chamber recognizes this is a statewide challenge that requires a statewide solution.

In a letter sent to the state legislature, the Chamber and its signatories wrote, “We urge you to fund the appropriation to sustain improvements, such as increasing stable housing, better access to support services and preventing homelessness through early intervention. We also recognize that a comprehensive and effective solution requires that an increase in funding must be matched with an increase in enforcement of public safety laws.”

This challenge demands collective attention, one that is sustainable, collaborative and balanced. This Governor’s budget request approach ensures that we support the most vulnerable among us while nurturing the economic vitality that sets our state apart. By striking this balance, we can create a brighter future for all, where compassion and economic strength go hand in hand.