Salt Lake City Tribune October 19, 2023
Salt Lake City’s planned sanctioned homeless camp met a major hurdle Thursday after state officials canceled a request for bids from potential service providers without selecting a winner, marking a setback in the city’s ambitious plans to get a site up and running by winter.
Utah’s cancellation of bidding will delay the selection of who will operate the temporary shelter site.
“The scope of work and other requirements contained in the solicitation documents were not met by any person and no responses met the minimum technical threshold,” the cancellation notice states. “This service will be re-solicited in the near future.”
City officials announced in August that they were pursuing a sanctioned camp that would serve unsheltered Utahns in the coldest months. Mayor Erin Mendenhall at the time said her goal was to get a location operational by the time other winter shelter beds came on line. Those beds are beginning to open now.
While the city is leading the charge to get a sanctioned camp open before temperatures dip, local officials are working with state leaders on selecting a service provider. The state also has plans to open a sanctioned camp in the future.
Sarah Nielson, spokesperson for the state Office of Homeless Services, said a new request for bids should be issued by the end of the month. State officials, she said, expect to select a provider by the end of November.
“We anticipate that the reissuance of an updated grant proposal will encourage the submission of stronger proposals,” Nielson said in a statement. “This, in turn, will better enable us to meet the urgent needs of those experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake City while also ensuring minimal community impact.”
The plan, she said, is to have the campground open by “some point” this winter. Officials plan for the camp to temporarily serve up to 50 people at 600 West and 300 South.
Reached late Thursday, a spokesperson for the mayor said he could not immediately comment on the delay the project faces.