Palmer Court: Helping the Homeless

On 4 Aug 2011, Lloyd S. Pendleton gave a presentation at Sunstone Symposium titled:  “To Give or Nor to Give.”  According to his program bio:

Lloyd S. Pendleton took the lead in 2004 in writing and implementing Utah’s 10-Year Plan for ending chronic homelessness.  In 2006, Lloyd was appointed director of Utah’s Homeless Task Force.  A graduate of BYU, he holds a BA in political science and an MBA.

His presentation dealt mainly with homelessness, the need to provide housing first.  During his presentation, he mentionned the recent development of Palmer Court, in Salt Lake City.  This project is located near my daughter’s home and I knew she had had some involvement with the early planning.

I email her (Jessica Berrett) and asked about her experience with Palmer Court:

Palmer Court was intended to serve two purposes – part of the building was dedicated to giving families, as well as some singles/couples, an apartment while they got jobs and got back on their feet.  Another portion of the building was dedicated to “chronically homeless” single males.  The goal was to get them out of the shelter and into a small apartment of their own, where they can hopefully stay the rest of their lives.  Most of them aren’t capable of holding jobs, paying rent, etc.  But the Road House (RH:  a private non-profit social service agency that assists individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake County and along the Wasatch Front) was hopeful that they could have their own place in this building, which is staffed and monitored by RH employees who know how to help them and understand what they need.  The idea was really to free up space at the homeless shelter that was being taken up by the same guys all the time.  It was modeled on some similar places (which are very successful) around the country, like Seattle.

Palmer Court, a Home for the Homeless

How my daughter got involved:

RH came to the community council to discuss the project, as it is in our area boundaries.  They invited a member of our council board to be on their advisory board for the project.  Our council as a whole seemed pretty concerned about the project so I volunteered.  Many residents did not like the idea of putting a lot of (formerly) homeless people, concentrated in  in one large building, in the middle of our community.  It was a totally new idea.  RH was considering purchasing a motel on Main Street, around 1000 South, that was formerly a Holiday Inn.  It had been mismanaged and poorly maintained, and the Holiday Inn corporation had removed their name from that particular franchise location.  At that point it was closed down and was sitting empty.  The neighboring businesses, especially car dealerships which sell higher-end brands like Audi and Acura, were upset.  First about the poor condition of the motel while it was still open, more still when it sat empty and abandoned, and finally when they found out that homeless people were going to move in.  A couple of those car dealers were on the advisory board too – members of the Strong family and Jody Wilkinson (Audi & Acura respectively) are the ones I remember.

I started attending some of their planning meetings before they had even secured all the funding they needed to buy it.  I was pretty impressed that the LDS church was responsible for the majority of the funding of the project.  RH also had some other smaller grants from local organizations, as well as from state and federal sources, but most of the money was from the church.  The plan was to completely remodel every motel room in the building, converting half of them into studio apartments with kitchenettes (for the single male, hopefully permanent residents).  For the other half, they combined two or three motel rooms into 1 or 2 bedroom apartments with small kitchens.  The “family” portion of the building was to be separated from the “male” section of the building with walls (so the hallways were completely separated) as well as having separate entrances.  All entrances were to be controlled with key cards.  Visitors would need to register on their way in.  There would be on-site security at all times (possibly off-duty police), as well as on-site counselors from RH to assist in day-to-day crises, hopefully helping to avoid unnecessary calls to law enforcement or 911.  They were hoping to implement some small businesses on-site, like a laundromat, day-care, convenience store, deli, etc.  All tenants would be thoroughly screened before being placed there.  No one with a violent criminal record, or otherwise considered a troublemaker by RH staff, would be moved in to Palmer Court.

The director of RH, Matt Minkevitch, led all the meetings.  He is a pretty amazing guy – absolutely perfect for the job.  I would describe him as knowledgeable, honest, funny, caring, and totally dedicated.  It’s clear that he loves his job and he loves people (especially those being helped by RH).  He is very engaging and has a way of making you feel like you’re the most important person in the world when you’re talking to him.  For the most part, I just reported their progress back to the council.  I did make one suggestion, which was to secure their parking area, which they did end up doing.  I doubt it was based solely on my suggestion, but up until that point it had not been mentioned.  Otherwise it seemed like they had already thought of everything.  They did a great job keeping me updated & inviting me to different things, and were always interested in input from myself and the council.

When the project was officially under way, I was invited to a celebration luncheon at the governor’s mansion.  That was pretty cool.  There were a lot of local politicians (Corroon, Shurtleff, etc) and other important people there.  I sat by a member of the Pierpont family and chatted with him quite a bit.  The governor (Huntsman) was going to speak but he had to go down south due to the Crandall Canyon mine collapse.  Pamela Atkinson spoke in his place.  She’s a pretty amazing lady too.

This entry was posted in mormonism, my family, Personalities, Religion, Social Justice. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Palmer Court: Helping the Homeless

  1. susan says:

    Sounds like you have a daughter that you should be very proud of!

  2. Allen says:

    Please thank your daughter for her service to others!

  3. Pingback: Panhandlers: A Moral Conundrum? | Tired Road Warrior

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