Talk this week has been all about homelessness. The operative word is "talk"—starting with KSL's Doug Wright wondering out loud why people still give to panhandlers when "everybody" tells them not to. Yes, you're supposed to support established organizations, but is this really a good time to discourage people from small acts of human kindness? The homeless dilemma just "creates conflict," says Mayor Ralph Becker, who formed Salt Lake City's Homeless Relocation Commission. The group has some ideas about where (and how) the homeless should go, since their presence seems to be impeding the encroachment of legitimate businesses. It seems that both the issues of the Utah State Prison move and homeless relocation are grounded in the economies of those who are neither prisoners nor homeless people.
Meanwhile, a Utah program that houses the homeless seems to be working. And, in Salt Lake City, homeless advocates have made palliative care possible for terminally ill homeless people. But opening the INN Between has created some angst in Poplar Grove. There was vocal opposition from some Franklin Elementary School parents and others living near the new facility. Salt Lake School Board member Michael Clara noted that the INN Between gives up to 30 terminally ill homeless people per year a place to pass with dignity. No one complained when the Guadalupe School and, later, a battered women's shelter were housed on the same property. Clara says some Boy Scouts are raising funds for a new fence. Out of sight, out of mind.
Spring has come to the Salt Lake area, and while fosythia are blooming, so is a skiff of pollution across the valley. The American Lung Association confirms that Salt Lake City is now the seventh most polluted city in the nation, followed by Logan at No. 8. No, this isn't year-round. The Lung Association notes that valley pollution spikes at certain times of the year, but all Wasatch Front counties earned "F" grades for air quality from 2011-13. While people with lung diseases are leaving the cities, the state continues to plead with individual residents to take voluntary measures while giving a pass to polluting industries. Groups like Western Resource Advocates are suing the Utah Division of Air Quality for issuing an air-quality permit for expansion of the HollyFrontier Woods Cross refinery.