EXPLAINING MY THOUGHTS ON HOMELESSNESS
Dear Fellow Draper Citizens,
I want to set the record straight regarding the potential women’s homeless resource center that Salt Lake County briefly considered locating in Draper, but ultimately decided to locate elsewhere. I also want to apologize to those who felt they weren’t given an adequate opportunity to learn what this facility would mean in our community and to weigh the possible risks.
I was saddened watching the homeless site selection process unfold in the news, seeing every single city and elected official oppose every proposed site. I was moved by the plight of the homeless, especially the women and innocent children suffering daily. I felt compelled to act, and was confident that the people of Draper would feel the same compassion I did.
An expedited process with a very short timeline had been put in place by the state, and Mayor McAdams was nearly out of time when I attempted to offer a low-impact location for women and children only and, at the same time, inject positive leadership into this difficult conversation. In fact, prior to my offer, the county already had an offer from a property owner to sell the county land for a potential site in Draper very near a residential neighborhood. This would not have been ideal.
In Draper, as in every other potential site location, there was an educational open house for residents to learn about what might be proposed and to have discussions with community leaders. The problem was that in Draper, what started out as an open house to gather information turned into something far different when some who opposed the center moved the meeting to the auditorium and turned it into open mic night.
As we attempted to share our thoughts and explain the process, Mayor McAdams and I were drowned out by anger and accusations. Much of it came from those who had been misinformed and were convinced that I would personally benefit financially from this arrangement. Many who came to gather information left in fear of the angry mob. After listening to every single person who wanted to speak over a 4 ½ hour period, I agreed to withdraw my support for the center.
For those who are concerned that adequate process was not followed, please know that I am sorry the idea came to me so close to the county’s deadline for site selection.
Please also know that Draper was subject to the same process as other communities:
- Potential site/sites were proposed.
- An open-house was held to disseminate information and engage members of the public.
- The county selected final sites.
For those who believe the lies that I had something to gain, either financially or politically, from this offer, please know:
- I do not own any property near the proposed sites or along the UTA right of way. The only real property I own is my home.
- I was not offered any money or other enticement for taking this position.
My volunteer service on UTA’s Board, as appointed by my fellow mayors from the various cities in Salt Lake County, is not a paid or executive position (I receive $50 per meeting). The location of a 200-bed women’s shelter would have had zero influence on the building of a half billion dollar light rail line that is probably more than a decade away.
The outpouring of love and support from friends, neighbors, family, city staff and citizens—many whom have offered sincere apologies to me for what took place that night—is proof that my assessment of the citizens of Draper as kind and generous is correct. I love this community, and I know personally of the goodness of so many of you as I’ve witnessed your acts of service and sacrifice to your neighbors and community over many years. I am proud to live and serve in Draper.
Thank you for listening.
Mayor Troy Walker