An Oregon journalist's take on SLC's homeless solution | Buzz Blog
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An Oregon journalist's take on SLC's homeless solution


This past summer, Salt Lake City hosted the annual conference of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. Among the editors of alty papers around the country who flocked here for the conference was Eugene Weekly's Camilla Mortensen.

I met Mortensen at an annual gathering in Montana of regional writers several years ago and delighted in encountering a fellow writer from the alternative side of the journalistic tracks. 

Having an entrepreneurial spirit, Mortensen decided to combine her Utah visit with a work project. She was writing a story about homelessness—specifically, Salt Lake City's much-vaunted "solution" to chronic homelessness, namely putting housing first—and what a similar program might mean for Eugene, Ore.

I took her down to the Road Home shelter so she could see that, despite publicity to the contrary, homelessness remains a challenge, stretching the city's resources to its limits and beyond. We walked through a gauntlet of people offering and even using drugs directly in front of the shelter. Judging by the wads of cash in some people's hand, it appeared they were not homeless, but rather pursuing criminal activity in the area. 

You can read her story here, and while doing so, please also read Scott Carrier's piece for Mother Jones on the same issue. (That link is embedded in her piece.)