I’m not sure where to begin in this column but I guess it will a plea for help. Every other month at my hair salon, Kennedy at Library Square, located in the downtown library, I have a benefit for the Volunteers of America youth services and shelter. I book haircuts all day from 9-5 on the third Friday and every single penny I earn is donated to the shelter, and to date have donated a thousand dollars and have the potential to give over $3,000.00 to a cause I feel very strongly about.
Let me tell you how it works: A haircut and blow dry is $40 for short hair, $55 for medium-length, and $65 for long hair. To book you either email me through Yelp (Kennedy at Library Square) or on my website kennedyatlibrarysquare.com starting on Monday, Feb. 13, and choose the ‘haircut for a cause’ option. Okay, the self promotion part of this article is now over.
I think even the blind and blissfully oblivious are aware of the critical situation we never found this city to be in with the rapidly growing homeless population. One that has made the city feel as of late has been quiet frankly, dangerous. I remember when I left Salt Lake City back in the early 1990’s and there was a handful of colorful homeless characters in the city, but on a whole we didn’t have anything that was considered a population. Having moved to San Francisco was such an overwhelming eye-opener.
It had been about 10 years after the Reagan administration had done a disastrous budget cut in the health care and in this case closed many of the mental psych institutions in the country, including three major ones in San Fancisco. They literally sent the occupants out onto the streets, and when I had arrived it had a decade to fester and it was so overwhelming and dangerous and desperate feeling.
I get the exact same feeling of fear and concern here today as I did then. This is what we are looking at if we don’t get a handle on it. The homeless of the Bay Area got so out of control that you could not walk one city block without being panhandled at a minimum of three times, and the people became so desperate that most encounters turned confrontational. As I think back, a lot of violent behavior was due to the meth problem that was running rampant through the city. A client at the salon who works in vice for the Salt Lake City Police Department says ours is in the heroine market, so maybe it’s not so confrontational, but still it’s going nowhere good.
Lately there has been controversy over the future homeless shelter projects and I have to tell you I feel they are brilliant solutions. Even though my opinions aren’t very popular with the agitated social media set, I implore you to get more involved with what we are facing and become part of the solution because what I read translates to a bunch of cry baby straight-white-privilege. Nobody wants unsightly social unrest in there backyard, but it has to go somewhere and I feel a majority of the people fighting the mayor’s plans are people that have never been to the current homeless shelter.
If that’s the case for you let me fill you in on what it’s like down on Rio Grande. Let me preface with that I feel the people who run and work at the Road Home Shelter are doing the best they can with what they have to work with but on a whole the current situation is garbage, largely from the trash and criminals that pray on the unfortunate homeless population. My friends who currently reside in the neighborhood have to deal with being mugged, drug dealers getting into there buildings, consistent gun fire, people passed out in there building, throw up and worse in their hallways. It’s terrible and 100 percent because it’s is all concentrated in one area of town. Yes splitting it up will help immensely.
It seems the most controversy comes with the shelter that is proposed to open in the Sugar House neighborhood. I get that the way the city went about with the potential displacement of a certain local business was less than admirable and that there should be some sort of compensation; however, those of you on Facebook shouting to keep a hippy fuck warehouse over providing a shelter for women and children in danger and need makes you sound as if you’ve never paid any attention to the less fortunate.
I could get into the ins and outs of the shelters to come but I’ll leave you with this: Each one will serve a specific purpose, from veterans to LGBT-specific, and breaking up the current crime surge is the key. The first step is for you to get involved and become part of the solution because fighting to keep it out of your backyard is only making you part of the problem.
For more information on SLC homeless issues, future and insolent, visit www.voa.com