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Homeless families found living in storage units

Homeless families found living in storage units

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SOUTH SALT LAKE — Police and health officials say the conditions were unsanitary and unsafe.

Last month, South Salt Lake police, the city fire marshal and the Salt Lake County Health Department found people living in at least five units at A-1 Storage, 3202 S. Davis Drive (460 West).

In one unit, officials found "a makeshift bedroom with food, clothing and other living accessories," according to a search warrant released Thursday. In another there were televisions, microwaves and lamps. "We also saw recliners, work stations, heaters and air conditioning units," police wrote.

Health officials also found human waste being stored in bottles and "presumably disposed of in an unknown manner," court records state. Multiple extension cords were also found running from a single outlet. At least one tenant had cut holes between the units to allow for movement.

The health department closed the storage units to occupancy citing health and safety hazards as well as fire and building code violations. Police did several return visits to make sure the units remained vacated. During at least one visit, one of the tenants had returned and was evicted again.

Neither South Salt Lake police nor health officials had an immediate exact count of how many people were living in the storage sheds, but they didn't believe Friday that there had been any children living in the units.

However, A-1 Access Storage manager Christie Andrews said that a family of three, including a 3-month-old child, was staying in one of the storage sheds. She said sometimes families can't keep up with traditional rent.

"They're homeless and they don't have anywhere to go," she said. "I was getting a lot of complaints that people were leaving their doors a half a foot up. ... I would kick them out and then an hour later they were there."

Some of the families had been living in the sheds for six months, Andrews said.

"They bolt themselves in, so I couldn't tell they were in there," she said. "They were secretly locking themselves in."

As of Friday, the health department said three of the units were completely vacated and another two had notices posted on them. It was not believed that anyone was living in those units, but their possessions may have still been inside.

Andrews said she has turned away 10 to 15 people over the past two weeks who wanted to rent storage sheds, suspecting their real intent was to move in themselves.

No one has been arrested.

Contributing: Shara Park


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