Operation Rio Grande Phase One has been extremely successful in arresting dangerous criminals and disrupting the drug trafficking and usage in the area. In the first two months, 37 treatment beds became available and were all filled with individuals that were arrested as a result of Operation Rio Grande. Those experiencing homelessness have expressed appreciation for how they now feel safe and are accessing services and programs to change their lives.
The Pioneer Park Coalition spent over a year advocating and collaborating with public officials towards an unprecedented operation with commitment and integration on the city, state, county, and private level, with bipartisanship and cooperation. On Monday, August 14th, Phase One of this 2+ year operation went into effect.
The Salt Lake City Council earmarked $200,000 to purchase transportable toilets to relieve the issue of human waste in the park and on the property of local businesses. The council also approved another $380,000 to hire additional social workers and police officers and pay police overtime to address an unprecedented level of violence and crime in the Pioneer Park area.
After one year of close involvement in Salt Lake County Collective Impact on Homelessness and the Mayor’s Commission on Homeless Site Evaluation, the Pioneer Park Coalition joined a group of stakeholders in proposing Salt Lake County’s HOMES Initiative, asking for $27 million from the state legislature as part of a coordinated request representing all interests to help achieve a common goal to minimize homelessness in Utah.
The Pioneer Park Coalition hosted the first televised debate for the 2015 Salt Lake City mayoral race at KSL 5 TV Studios. This questions the coalition provided and all five candidates responses raised light on the complexities of addressing homelessness such as improving mental health services, protecting women and children, and dispersing facilities to reduce the burden of any one neighborhood.
During the 2015 legislative season, The Pioneer Park Coalition successfully requested $1 million of the Governor’s budget for permanent supportive housing efforts, which was allocated to the Olene Walker Housing Trust Fund. As PPC continued its advocacy efforts to address homelessness, Salt Lake County formed a Collective Impact on Homelessness Steering Committee and invited the Pioneer Park Coalition to participate, giving them four chairs on the committee.
The Pioneer Park Coalition convened a design charrette focused on physical improvements to the Park and neighborhood, to support and address in part many complex community issues of the district. This effort was done close coordination with Salt Lake City, to update and help bring to fruition concepts outlined in Salt Lake City’s 2006 Pioneer Park Master Plan.
The Pioneer Park Coalition worked with the Salt Lake Police department to fundraise and acquire new security technology for Pioneer Park. Earlier in the month, the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office released The Homeless Services 6 Point Strategy to End Homelessness, which included the Pioneer Park Coalition as a primary community partner in the plan and listed renewal of Pioneer Park as the 6th strategy.
The Pioneer Park Coalition formed as a nonprofit with a mission to make Pioneer Park a safe and inviting place for the community. The coalition recognized that improving the park couldn’t happen without first understanding and addressing systemic challenges the Rio Grande neighborhood had been experiencing for decades.