South Salt Lake Receives Department of Justice Grant to Help Individuals Experiencing Homelessness Navigate the Justice System
Grant supports the City’s innovative approach to reducing homelessness
SOUTH SALT LAKE, November 1, 2023 – The South Salt Lake Justice Court has received a four-year, $569,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to assist individuals experiencing homelessness in moving through the court process more quickly and efficiently.
According to South Salt Lake Mayor Wood, the grant funds are essential to the City’s innovative approach to addressing the barriers that contribute to chronic homelessness.
“We know that access to justice is just one of the barriers that keep individuals from securing safe and stable housing,” said Mayor Wood. “These funds will allow the Justice Court to hire additional staff to move individuals through the courts system more quickly.”
The funds will be used to hire a Judicial Case Manager (JCM) and an Outreach Case Manager (OCM). These new positions will work alongside several City Departments and community partners to address the specific needs of individuals experiencing homelessness, where sentencing requirements normally include conditions for mental health and drug addiction services. A community committee will convene to discuss the various needs and provide input on the program development.
This addition to South Salt Lake Justice Court adds to the unique and solutions-based approach the City takes to addressing individuals experiencing homelessness through compassion. In 2018, South Salt Lake Police Department began a program with a specially trained group of police officers–Homeless Resource Officers (HROs)--to handle the unique circumstances and situations that arise at both the Pamela Atkinson Men's Resource Center and in the community with homeless individuals. By working with the SSL Homeless Strategies Department, SSL Fire Department, and local community partners and businesses, the team can respond with both resources and public safety tools as needed.
Adding specialized services to the Justice Court ensures that homeless individuals do not fall through the cracks once they reach the sentencing process for a crime, but instead receive hands-on support to help them successfully navigate their sentencing requirements on their path to a more stable life.
“This new program will play an important role in how we serve and treat individuals experiencing homelessness in South Salt Lake,” said Christine Simonette, Director of the City’s Homeless Strategies Department. “These are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and we must recognize that they need additional guidance and support to meet sentencing requirements so they can take the next steps into rehabilitation, job placement, and housing.”
South Salt Lake Justice Court will have six months to fully develop the program and present it to the DOJ for approval, after which time the Court will begin implementation and carefully track all aspects of the program to ensure equity and to make adjustments for improvement over time.