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Homelessness issue lacks direction, according to Senate President

Sen. President Stuart Adams agrees that organizational changes are needed to better address homelessness in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Comments made by the new federal czar of homelessness this week are gaining local traction. Utah Sen. President Stuart Adams (R-Davis County) is calling for better and more leadership to address the issue.

“We’ve all been involved in this, we know it’s a significant issue,” Adams said.

Speaking with KSL Newsradio hosts Dave & Dujanovic, Adams echoed the round-about way homelessness is addressed in Salt Lake City.

“The legislature has stepped forward, we’ve had municipalities step forward,” he said. “We’ve had all sorts of non-profits step forward.”

But, he argues, the different entities have yet to work together in a meaningful way.

“There probably needs to be a real effort to coordinate it,” he says.

Local homelessness czar?

Stuart says that one way to bring about change could be to create a state cabinet-level position. Otherwise, he said, it may fall on the legislature to find a solution.

“As we come up with ideas like this, normally we bring them into the legislative group,” he said. “They get vetted and [lawmakers try to] find a way to actually solve the problem.”

Dr. Robert Marbut, the chief authority on homelessness under President Trump, has brought the topic into the spotlight.

Dr. Marbut noted a lack of direction while visiting Salt Lake City and speaking with KSL Newsradio’s Inside Sources host, Boyd Matheson.

“Who’s in charge? Who’s the leader? And we’re sort of getting a lot of fingers going different directions,” he asked Matheson.

According to Marbut, more money than ever is available to states right now to help address homelessness. But the numbers aren’t going down.

“So if the model’s right and you’re increasing money, then the numbers should be going down,” he said. “And that’s just not happening.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has already championed some changes during her short time in office.

Most recently, she designated a vacant building in the Sugarhouse neighborhood as a temporary homeless shelter.