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DRAPER — The homeless problem in downtown Salt Lake City sparked a heated debate earlier this year when Draper City Mayor Troy Walker offered two potential sites for a future homeless center in his city.
Many residents were outraged, and some even called for Walker’s resignation. Walker revealed to KSL for the first time why he wanted Draper to host a location.
At the time, Draper was the only city to offer support in building a shelter. But at Draper Park Middle School, more than 700 angry constituents called their mayor out. He told KSL he wasn’t used to the booing and angry calls during the meeting, but still felt optimistic that Draper residents would come around to the idea of a shelter in Draper.
“I think we have support in our community,” Walker said at the rally. “I think people will rally.”
Walker sat with Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams but describes it differently now.
“It was a hostile meeting, to be sure,” Walker said. “It was probably one of the nastiest experiences I’ve had.”
Walker said the reason he was compelled to offer Draper as a homeless shelter site is because of a meeting he had with McAdams days earlier.
“This is something I felt motivated in my heart to do,” he said. “I felt compelled to offer some solution."
It was a hostile meeting, to be sure. It was probably one of the nastiest experiences I’ve had.
–Mayor Troy Walker
McAdams went undercover at the Road Home Shelter, the Deseret News reported, sleeping feet away from the very people the residents wanted to keep out.
“Ben had seen this human carnage and he had seen what it is like for people,” Walker said.
Walker had two places in mind that could work that was not on Draper public land.
“It choked me up a couple times — the actual human suffering Ben witnessed specifically when you think of innocent little children and their mothers,” Walker said.
His announcement backfired with his constituents, and rumors of possible personal gain followed. He said these accusations are untrue.
“I work on the UTA board as a volunteer,” Walker explained. “I don’t get money if the light rail gets expanded.”
In the end, it didn't matter, and he withdrew the offer.
“In order to make it work, we would have needed the support of the community,” Walker said.