According to the Deseret News, shortly after House Speaker Greg Hughes revealed his clear disgust and frustration over the conditions and behavior at Salt Lake City’s overcrowded homeless shelter, the mayors and governor took notice. Hughes literally stated the need for a homeless "czar" and even casually suggested the National Guard may be needed to handle the ongoing crime situation.
Gov. Gary Herbert was said to have had a "productive conversation" with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams on July 6, as stated by Paul Edwards spokesman for Gov. Hebert. Edwards revealed that they began discussions on how to control the problems and lawlessness in the Rio Grande neighborhood.
A meeting between them and other legislative leaders is expected to be scheduled soon to discuss Hughes recommendations and concerns.
Edwards stated that Gov. Herbert is "open" to considering Hughes’ request for a “homelessness czar” and to consider possible additional state resources if needed to alleviate the problem.
"We're clearly at the point where there is a significant crisis, a humanitarian crisis in that part of the city that requires a very vigorous response, especially from law enforcement,"explained Edwards.
"We are very concerned about the failure to enforce things like loitering and camping laws in that part of the city, and what it means for the perpetuation of lawlessness, the drug dealing,"continued Edwards.
Gov. Hughes stated in an interview that he has considered bringing the National Guard to Salt Lake City to "grab the community's attention" and "start a conversation" in reference to the need to regain control of the Rio Grande area. However, Hughes made it clear he is not actually calling in the National Guard now, but just wanted to stress the seriousness of the situation in the area.
"Because what's happening down there is so violent and unsafe. If you were to have ever (called for) the National Guard before, that would have been hyperbole, and people would roll their eyes. But I think you can have a straight-faced conversation (about it) right now."Hughes stated.