According to area business owners, the homeless who are attempting to work and get off the streets are falling victim to homeless predators.
Salt Lake City, UT —Bob Danielson and his brother Tom own and operate a munitions manufacturing facility just West of the Gail Miller Homeless Resource Center. Danielson has sympathized and aided some of the homeless individuals who have become tenants at the facility, but Danielson is appalled by how the homeless individuals, especially those who are seeking to improve their situation are being preyed upon and ending up worse off than when they first arrived at the center.
Danielson says, “I’ve witnessed robberies of those who are trying to get back on their feet and work. These people become the targets of the predators.” Danielson adds, “ I can think of three occasions where people who were just going to work were robbed. Wearing their orange vests, and hard hats and going to work, they were robbed.”
Danielson adds, that the reason why people who would otherwise be working getting back on their feet fail is due to the shelter’s “one-size-fits-all policy”. Severely mentally ill patients are placed beside people who have recently lost their housing. Five-time convicted pedophiles or violent offenders are beside people who need a place to stay for a few nights.”
Utah Stories has reached out to the Director of the Gail Miller Resource Center Mike Young for comment, Young has referred us to The Road Home’s Policy Director for comment, to forward on our question to Road Home Director Michelle Flynn. We are awaiting a response to their policies of protecting the working homeless and temporary homeless from sexual predators, violent offenders, and those who are committing robberies. They have said in the past that it is an issue of resources. Danielson challenges this assertion, questioning how they used a $5 million donation they received from an Amazon-backed charity called Day-1 Family’s Fund.
Besides witnessing the decline of homeless tenants, Danielson says that he is shocked by the level of rampant crime and drug trafficking around his facility. Danielson has a surveillance-camera video of a woman attempting to break into his facility, scaling a chain-link fence while clutching a machete. He says that area business owners have spent tens of thousands of dollars replacing broken windows. He has videos of numerous street fights and property crimes. Danielson has personally been involved in attempted robberies. “I’ve been vocal about all of this for a long time now, and it’s shocking how nobody is willing to do anything.”
Danielson has been working with the Pioneer Park Coalition. He and other business owners have voiced their concerns and have made attempts to make changes to the failure of the center, but he says while some of the administrators listen, and say they care, their actions speak otherwise.
Salt Lake City’s Response to the Increase in Violence and Crime
Danielson’s testimony and accounts have been in the news for months now. Andrew Wittenberg, the spokesman for Salt Lake Mayor Erin Mendenhall, told another news outlet that safety in the area is “a major priority, and the Mayor secured $3 million in mitigation money from the state to assist with public safety and law enforcement near homeless resource centers.”
Danielson said that there have been noticeable changes during business hours, but Danielson says, from 6 PM to 10 PM, it’s a different story. Drug traffickers have adapted. After business hours for area businesses now drug trade opens up shop. Danielsson invites Mayor Mendenhall or any homeless administrators to come and witness the rampant lawlessness that still persists despite the increase of police presence during the day, “Come and walk around with me and you will see it everywhere,” he says.
The additional three million that the city has received from the State will be allocated to providing additional police officers for the area. Still many homeless choose to camp outside rather than brave the shelters that many say are unsafe.
View The Entire Podcast Episode With Bob Danielson Below
More on Homelessness From Utah Stories:
The “Grand Plan” for Salt Lake City’s Homeless Population
Shelter For the Unsheltered With Winter Approaching
Why More Homeless Spending is Resulting in More Homeless People