In our opinion: What does Operation Rio Grande look like one year later?

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  • casual observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2018 5:23 p.m.

    Looking at the Rio Grande area without considering the displaced homeless camping elsewhere in the city is deceptive. "Curing homelessness" means addressing drug addiction, mental health, affordable housing and poor education, not just cleaning up Pioneer Park.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 21, 2018 1:37 p.m.

    @2 bits,

    You probably missed one small phrase I wrote. I never said all cases were one way or the other; nor did I even imply that within my writing. But, in my response to another commentators post; I pointed out the vast majority of the cases the initial cause or the root cause of the homelessness was not a choice made by an individual.

    There might be a few individuals here or there; that simply rather live on the streets without any responsibility because that is the life they want... but the vast majority of them do not want a life on the street but they have no other alternative options available.

    And then in the extremely limited character count, I attempted to point out how some people call some things a choice (like using drugs); but in which such a choice was not the original cause of the problem; rather was an attempt to resolve or to mask the problem. Some people may have made the poor choice to try drugs... but once hooked (addiction is known medical problem) their ability to make any other choices was removed from their brain. They didn't choose addiction; even if the initial drug use was a choice.

    Etc. Etc.

    Talking the majority of cases; not every single case.

  • What in Tucket Provo, UT
    Aug. 21, 2018 8:30 a.m.

    Perhaps others know more than me, but the effort to help the homeless has not been entirely worthless. Inexpensive housing with rooms to sleep in at night seems a good idea. What I do not understand is why drug dealers can't e be picked up and incarcerated.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 21, 2018 7:58 a.m.

    @NeifyT,
    You and Flipphone are both right (not just one). And you are both wrong (not just one).

    Is buying and using drugs a choice? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't (it's medication like you say). But you pretend they never have a choice. That's pure malarkey. So is the assumption that there's never any reason for that choice other than a recreational high. Both happen. You are both right and both wrong.

    Is ignoring your education or leaving school early to sell drugs or hang with your friends a choice? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't (family needs you to get a job, etc).

    Is panhandling a choice? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

    Is letting your higene go a choice? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

    Is being homeless a choice? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

    Some people prefer and choose this lifestyle (no home, no job, no responsibility), some have it thrust upon them, sometimes as a consequence of earlier decisions, sometimes out of the blue with nothing they could do about it.

    So in reality (not pure rhetoric) you are both right on some situations, but wrong on others.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 2:17 p.m.

    @Flipphone,

    You might claim that the root cause is poor life choices; but that is not true in most cases. It is individuals who have disabilities and medical problems, and other life situations that were of no fault or making of their own. These get exacerbated when the government "criminalizes" their behavior just because it is different than the "norm." It gets exacerbated even more when there is no way to get medical care and they attempt to self-medicate (use of drugs) to deal with their medical problems. And that in turn is exacerbated again by the government calling them criminal.

    You might claim that "drug use" was a "poor life choice." But, that is usually only a choice when one is left with no other means to handle the medical problems that society has basically said are criminal in nature.

    Again, with 80% unemployment for mentally ill persons (who are mentally ill through no fault of their own) you wonder why so many end up on the streets and turn to drugs? Employers refuse to hire and pay a living wage to persons with a mental illness. Cop treat the mere mention of mental illness as the most heinous crime that warrants immediate imprisonment or even execution.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 2:15 p.m.

    Well-written. I agree. The article points out the victories and concerns I see as well as several others.

    I continue to be optimistic about the Operation and hope it will be a success in the end. That said, there have been problems and pain-points - not the least of which is having the problems spread to other areas. That said, I still say it's worth the effort. What we know is that the previous efforts did nothing to change the status quo and that status quo was not acceptable. There is no perfect fix. I just hope this is a better fix than what we've had before when all is said and done.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 12:10 p.m.

    The other tough question we have to ask ourselves is... what to do with the people who don't qualify for any job, even if they wanted one. The people nobody will hire.

    Some people I see on the street would probably not be hired even if they applied at McDonalds (or the other places that hire unskilled labor).

    Some can't be trusted with a cash register. Some are not people you would want interacting with your customers and their food (because of hygiene problems). Some dropped out of school or scrambled their brains with drugs, they can't be trained to handle a complex transaction with coupons, lots of buttons, rules, procedures and stuff.

    It's sad, but we need to face it that some homeless people can't handle a job. What do we do with them? Sometimes it's not their fault (mental illness, etc), but sometimes it is (drugs, uneducated school dropout, etc). There's no simple answer.

    I think first we should focus on the people who have proven they can work and want to work, but they can't afford today's skyrocketing rent or food. These people can be helped with temp housing assistance, food assistance, etc. People nobody would hire is a tougher issue.

  • Johnny Triumph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 11:29 a.m.

    It's amusing that it would ever be considered complete...it's police work.

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 11:30 a.m.

    NeifyT - Salt Lake City, UTAnd

    that is what Operation Rio Grande did with homelessness; it just spread it out more; and exacerbated the root cause of the homelessness... not being allowed to hold a job that pays a living way because of life circumstance.

    I would say, the root cause of homelessness is caused by individuals, making poor choices in life. or their desire to live a life of homelessness supported by panhandling .

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 11:25 a.m.

    Flipphone has a point. 4% is considered "Full employment". Everybody who WANTS a job can get one today. I see signs advertising jobs on almost every establishment now days, but I don't see the homeless lining up to apply for those jobs.

    I guess the question we have to ask ourselves at this point is... if somebody doesn't WANT a job... can we force them to get a job?

    I suspect the only way we have to force people to take a job (even if they don't want one), is... to let them suffer if they decide not to work for a living.

    I guess I agree with Benjamin Franklin, who said
    “I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer”...

    Maybe that would work today? I don't know. Maybe it's just pie-in-the-sky Conserve rhetoric. Was Benjamin Franklin a Conservative?

  • Flipphone Sandy, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 10:26 a.m.

    The homeless problem hasn't been solved even with a 3.9% unemployment rate. Some people prefer to live a life of homeless.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 10:01 a.m.

    @JCS;
    "Essentially, Operation Rio Grande was little more than a publicity stunt by a group of politicians who are seeking higher office. Moving crime from one area to another does nothing to protect the public. "

    No. It was a taxpayer funded neighborhood cleanup. Designed solely to increase property values of the developers and their politicians that own commercial property in the Rio Grande area. Nothing more.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 9:47 a.m.

    Straight to the comments again; but my answer to the question posed in the headline.

    "What does Operation Rio Grande look like one year later?"

    I looks to me like, "water on a grease fire."

    You know what happens when you put water on a grease fire? It just spreads the fire; and exacerbates the problem.

    And that is what Operation Rio Grande did with homelessness; it just spread it out more; and exacerbated the root cause of the homelessness... not being allowed to hold a job that pays a living way because of life circumstance.

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 9:18 a.m.

    You can only judge the success of Operation Rio Grande by looking at the neighborhoods where the homeless have moved. You don't cure a fever just because you stop taking a person's temperature.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 9:14 a.m.

    Every measure mentioned in the article was a positive. I wonder if there have been any negatives. From this article you wouldn't know it.

    I want this program to succeed because I want the people involved to succeed in getting out of this lifestyle, but I don't want to see the first year of the program white-washed for political expediency.

    Are people really getting out? Are we getting better at fighting addiction? And mental illness? Are the chronically homeless getting out?

    I hope we're not just spreading the problems we had at Rio Grande around to other locations. I hope we're really fixing something with this program.

    Housing in SLC is not getting more affordable. My kids just bought a new home in the area and the prices are getting ridiculous. I really can't see how the homeless are getting closer to getting out if home prices and rent throughout SL County is skyrocketing (which it is).

    Last night 60 Minutes reported that 1/4 of America's homeless come from LA. And they blamed it on the skyrocketing real-estate prices and skyrocketing rent in LA. And SLC is following LA's trend.

    I hope it's really working.

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    Aug. 20, 2018 8:45 a.m.

    Operation Rio Grande is an unmitigated failure. It did not reduce crime, it only displaced it. Adjacent areas have been flooded by the drug use and crime that used to be concentrated in the Rio Grande area.

    Essentially, Operation Rio Grande was little more than a publicity stunt by a group of politicians who are seeking higher office. Moving crime from one area to another does nothing to protect the public.

    The problem was created by the city giving the homeless near-immunity from arrest for so long, followed by The lenient to nonexistent prosecution under the ECR program. Simply moving the crime has not rectified the basis of the problem.