An SLC Problem
A recent poll from The Salt Lake Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics revealed the not-so-surprising fact that most Utah voters don't know any homeless people. Meanwhile, that "compassionate conservatism" Utahns love to proclaim has been sadly missing from the legislative-driven frenzy to site homeless shelters. NIMBY is alive and well as Draper, South Salt Lake, Sugar House, et al., reject the notion of living near the homeless. Indeed, The Road Home has become a hell-hole for that population. Anyone who follows realtor and columnist Babs De Lay knows the downside—drugs, filth, starvation, crime. And yet she persists. Not so for the residents of Draper who saw fit to boo a homeless man who called for compassion and patience. Their signs blared that homelessness is a Salt Lake City problem, and they rejected the proposed Draper site.
Not everyone reacts negatively to the homeless. Katie Lewis-Kooring struck up a friendship with a homeless man named Ben at Sugar House Coffee. "I realized he was funny, sweet and smart and eventually we sought each other's company," she says. You might have seen Ben around the Sugarhood. He sells hand-carved walking sticks. "He's always willing to listen to people, and people deliberately seek him out and unload on him." Lewis-Kooring and her friend Cameron Williams noticed Ben was having trouble with his eyes. They arranged for him to visit an optometrist who diagnosed cataracts. They were unsuccessful seeking help from the Department of Veterans Affairs (his records were lost), and were considering a Kickstarter campaign when an eye surgeon offered her services free of charge. Ben now has sight in both eyes—because someone was not afraid.
We know that money talks. And so, when police run into dead ends, they or the victims' families often turn to monetary rewards for information. It seemed to work in the Elizabeth Smart case. Eight people split a $250,000 reward for helping find her. The reward for information about the torture of Sage the cat is at $61,850 as of March 23, and the case competes with Smart's in exposure. People Magazine and the New York Daily News are among those spotlighting the crime. But lawyers.com, a network of U.S. attorneys, cautions that fear often keeps people from reporting. On the plus side, those rewards led to the capture of the Unabomber. But someone has to snitch on Sage's abuser.