Is Salt Lake City a City of Compassion or a City of Abandonment?

Zoning Issue Update

November 21, 2015

About 100 people attended the Public Hearing on November 17th, and the City Council listened intently as 47 people spoke. The speakers represented a variety of backgrounds and professions, including residents of The INN Between, architects, doctors, registered nurses, several neighbors, nonprofit directors, and INN Between volunteers and donors. All speakers, with the exception of one, spoke in support of The INN Between being able to expand into the old Guadalupe School building. The medical professionals reinforced that dying is a natural process that takes place in the home, underscoring that The INN Between is a much nicer home than many of the private homes they enter as hospice workers. Carrie Romano, Executive Director at Ronald McDonald House, shared her board's concerns about how the proposed changes to Eleemosynary Facility would impact her program's ability to grow, pointing out that that definition was adopted 27 years ago for Ronald McDonald House.

Most of the neighbors who spoke said they like The INN Between being in the neighborhood – they understand that all new programs have road bumps and believe we can work together to address any neighborhood concerns. In an emotional testimony, an attorney described how her father died on the streets alone seven years ago, and that she loved him despite his homelessness and wished that a place like The INN Between would have been there for him. The highlight of the evening was "The INN Between Jingle" sung by Robin Smith, a resident of The INN Between and talented musician.

The City Council voted to defer any decision in order to gather more information and discuss options. They have tentatively scheduled a discussion for the December 1 Work Session. In closing, Council-member Kyle LaMalfa, District 2, shared the Council's concerns in detail. We are confident that we can address their concerns and work together to proceed in a way that allows The INN Between and Ronald McDonald House to grow as Eleemosynary Facilities in Salt Lake City.



 

Proposed zoning changes limit a nonprofit's success in housing terminally ill homeless individuals.

By Kim Correa, Executive Director, The INN Between

November 7, 2015, Salt Lake City  Death is a natural process, and since the dawn of humanity, people have been dying at home. But homeless people don’t have a home, so where do they go to die? The Salt Lake City Council is considering zoning changes that would mandate that the homeless die in state licensed facilities, like nursing homes. But, who will pay the $4,500 to $6,000 cost per month? The City? The taxpayers? If this were a viable solution, we’d already be sending the homeless to nursing homes.

The INN Between offers a housing solution for a small but critical part of the City's homelessness crisis - the terminally ill. In June, the City Council passed a six-month Temporary Ordinance that almost stopped the organization in its tracks by blockin The INN Between from operating in the old Guadalupe School under the previously approved use of Eleemosynary Facility – “A facility operated by a nonprofit charitable organization or government entity to provide temporary housing and assistance to individuals who suffer from and are being treated for trauma, injury or disease and/or their family members.”

Now the matter is up for public hearing, and it is being framed as “addressing a gap” and “expanding options for Assisted Living Facilities.”  We agree that there is a gap. However, we disagree on the nature of the gap and on the solution. The gap is that homeless people have nowhere to die with dignity. The solution is to allow them to die with dignity in a home-like environment where they can receive professional hospice care, just like the rest of us.

The public zoning hearing took place on November 17th. You can still voice your support. Here's how:

  • Call the City Council during business hours on (801) 535-7600 or on their 24-hour Comments Line (801) 535-7654
  • Email the City Council on
  • Click to post your feedback on the City's online forum
  • SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES

Sample Statement to The Mayor and City Council (feel free to personalize)

Is Salt Lake City a City of Compassion or a City of Abandonment? I urge the City Council to REJECT proposed changes to the definition of Eleemosynary Facility which would exclude “end of life care, respite care and facilities not licensed by the State of Utah.” These changes demonstrate a lack of compassion for people who are dying, and they discriminate against Utah's most vulnerable homeless individuals by severely limiting their access to housing.

Death is a natural process. People have been dying at home since the dawn of humanity. Those of us fortunate enough to have a home, get to choose to die at home. Utah's homeless men and women deserve the same choice. No one deserves to die alone on the streets.

The INN Between is the only Utah agency dedicated to giving the homeless a safe and comfortable place to experience the end of life with dignity. The INN Between solves a small portion of the City's homelessness crisis by housing the most vulnerable through the end of life. The City should do everything it can to support this noble effort.

The Salt Lake City Planning and Zoning Department approved The INN Between's use of the old Guadalupe School as an Eleemosynary Facility on May 29th. Although the City Council blocked this on June 19th with a Temporary Ordinance, citing health and safety concerns. The State of Utah Department of Health subsequently reviewed The INN Between's program and determined that it complies with health and safety standards and does not need to be licensed by the State. The INN Between simply provides a surrogate home where people can receive professional hospice care by a licensed agency, just like the rest of us who happen to have a home.

The proposed zoning changes effectively mandate that the homeless die in state-licensed health facilities that cost $4,500 to $6,000 per month. But who will pay? The City, i.e. the taxpayers? The funding simply isn't there, leaving the status-quo of terminally ill homeless men and women suffering and dying on the streets, which is neither safe nor healthy for them or our community.

I ask the City Council to SUPPORT the State's finding and do everything it can to help The INN Between provide critical housing to our dying homeless. Specifically, I ask the City to REJECT all proposed changes to and exclusions from the definition of Eleemosynary Facility, so that the definition reverts to its pre-June 16, 2015 state, allowing The INN Between to operate under its originally approved use and grow in response to community need.

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Our Current Challenges

The INN Between opened in August as a Congregate Care facility in the former convent building; however, there are two challenging drawbacks:

  1. We only have 12 beds, which are almost full. We realistically need about 25 more beds to meet community need. Since the proposed zoning change strikes Congregate Care Facility from the zoning definitions, The INN Between would never be able to expand to another location as a Congregate Care Facility.
  2. This use does not allow us to keep people if they enter the bedridden “active dying” phase, which can last up to a week or more. Tthis is critical Everyone who has a fixed address is allowed to die in their own bed. They are not forced to relocate simply because they have become bedridden. Our residents deserve the same!

It is inhumane to physically move an actively dying person simply because they have become bedridden and don’t fit under a particular zoning definition.

Background

The INN Between is the only temporary housing option where terminally ill homeless individuals can receive professional hospice care and die with dignity. Prior to The INN Between, terminally ill homeless individuals suffered, and often died, on the streets, in City parks or along the Jordan River. Shelters are not equipped to provide appropriate 24/7 housing to the terminally ill, and hospice agencies rarely delivery care in shelters.

The INN Between was originally approved to operate in the old Guadalupe School as an Eleemosynary Facility – “A facility operated by a nonprofit charitable organization or government entity to provide temporary housing and assistance to individuals who suffer from and are being treated for trauma, injury or disease and/or their family members.” The INN Between meets this use because we provide temporary housing for people with medical issues. We are their “surrogate home” during the last few weeks or months of life and provide a place where they can receive professional hospice care, just like therest of us.

The INN Between is dedicated to providing a safe and comfortable place where Utah’s terminally ill homeless men and women can experience the end of life with dignity. In order to meet community need and serve clients through to the end of life, we need to operate as an Eleemosynary Facility, as approved in May.

The INN Between is aligned with Mayor Becker’s Aging in Place agenda which focuses on “…the ability to choose to stay where you are as you get older and to have options that allow you to adapt to changes common with aging, such as health issues, mobility changes, housing needs and living on a fixed income.”

Prior to opening in the old school, The INN Between participated in two Public Hearings at the Poplar Grove Community Council to address community concerns. As a result, the Poplar Grove Community Council provided a letter of support to The INN Between, dated June 12, 2014. We were making progress on renovations in order to hit a June opening date.

However, at the June 16, 2015 meeting of the Salt Lake City Council, Councilperson Kyle LaMalfa sponsored a Temporary Ordinance that excluded “facilities providing end of life or respite care” from the definition of Eleemosynary Facility, halting The INN Between in its tracks. Since The INN Between was the only facility to date to have applied for use as an end of life and respite facility under Eleemosynary Facility, we believed that our program was unfairly targeted through spot zoning.

In subsequent news stories, Mr. LaMalfa stated that he introduced this restriction because he was concerned for the health and safety of the individuals and for the safety of the neighborhood, underscoring that too many homeless services were located on the West side. Click for links to several news stories.

The State of Utah Department of Health, which regulates medical entities, disagreed with the Council's concern for health and safety. They reviewed our program and determined that The INN Between is exempt from licensing because we do not provide medical care. They recognize that The INN Between simply provides temporary housing for individuals who may be receiving care from state-licensed agencies or individuals.

In the meantime, Architect Ken Millo, researched the zoning and discovered that we could operate as a Congregate Care Facility in our smaller building, the former Catholic Convent, which can house about 12 people. The INN Between has been up and running in the convent for just over two months. In that time we have provided over 420 housing nights to 20 people, experienced three deaths with dignity and held two memorial services. We also launched a community AA program that meets every Monday evening.

The INN Between has not detracted from housing values in the immediate neighborhood. In fact, housing sales are up 57% over 2014, and Average Selling Price is up 21% (source: Multiple Listing Service).

MLS Report on Housing Sales around The INN Between

 

Zoning Change Details

The currently proposed Ordinance PLNPCM2014-00388 has substantially expanded the depth and breadth of the Temporary Ordinance. Many of the changes affect assisted living facilities and do not impact The INN Between. However, buried deep in the proposed changes lie a few changes that directly target The INN Between and severely limit our ability to serve terminally ill homeless men and women. The proposed ordinance:

  1. Assumes that the exclusion of “end of life and respite care” has been made law, even though that language was entered under the Temporary Ordinance and has not been made law through the public hearing process;
  2. Re-defines “Eleemosynary Facility” to not only exclude “facilities providing end of life care or respite care,” but to also exclude “facilities exempt from licensing by the state of Utah.” The INN Between is the only program to have applied for the specific activity of providing temporary housing for people who need end of life and respite care. The State of Utah Department of Health exempted our program from licensing because we do not provide medical care – all medical care is provided by professional, State-licensed home health and hospice agencies.
  3. Strikes “Congregate Care Facility” from the definitions, making The INN Between “legal, non-conforming” and preventing us from expanding under that use to a new or larger location in Salt Lake City to meet community needs.

This is not about the “health and safety” of homeless people. Mr. LaMalfa has publicly stated, on several occasions, that he thinks too many homeless services are locate on the West Side, and that other communities need to do their part. Click for links to several news stories.

The City Council changed the ordinance to address a perceived gap, and we agree there is a gap. However, we disagree on the nature of the gap and on the solution. The gap is that homeless people have nowhere to die with dignity. The solution is to allow them to die in a home-like environment such as an Eleemosynary Facility.

Timeline

2010 A group of individuals, headed by Deborah Thorpe, a Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner at Huntsman Cancer Hospital, formed a committee to address the end of life needs of homeless individuals. The committee met monthly over the next four years, working on a business plan and searching for a suitable, affordable location to launch the program.

November 2012 The committee named their initiative The INN Between, to represent housing a homeless person between life and death.

September, 2014 The committee found the former Catholic Convent, located at 344 S. Goshen, and adjacent former Guadalupe School, on 340 S. Goshen. We met with the Roman Catholic Church to discuss The INN Between, and the Church was very interested our program.

November 2014 The INN Between requested a zoning review for the location that concluded with a written, but informal approval to operate as an Eleemosynary Facility, defined in the Zoning Ordinance as, “A facility operated by a nonprofit charitable organization or government entity to provide temporary housing and assistance to individuals who suffer from and are being treated for trauma, injury or disease and/or their family members.”

December 3, 2014 Based on the zoning approval, The INN Between formed a Utah Nonprofit Corporation and applied for 501(c)(3) status with Internal Revenue Service.

January 9, 2015 Kim Correa was appointed Executive Director of The INN Between, dedicating her time and energy to opening the facility as quickly as possible.

February 2015 We requested a zoning review to ensure that we would not be blindsided with unexpected and potentially costly issues. We were told that we could not use the convent for overnight occupancy because it lacked a fire suppression system, but that we could use the school because it has a fire suppression system. We were told that we’d need to install a fire hydrant and upgrade the fire alarm system. We started making arrangements to accommodate these building upgrades and planned to use the convent for offices and storage.

April 1, 2015 Based on the zoning approval, we entered into a five-year lease on the former school and adjacent former convent. Later that month, our contractor submitted plans to upgrade the fire alarm system, and the plans were approved by the Planning Department.

May 11, 2015 We held a Ribbon Cutting and House Blessing Ceremony, attended by over 100 people.

May 2015 Salt Lake City Planning and Zoning told us they had rescinded the plan approval for the fire alarm system and requested a formal application for a Zoning Interpretation for use of the School building as an Eleemosynary Facility. This was completed and they approved the Eleemosynary Facility use on May 29, 2015, under the definition as it existed at the time.

June 16, 2015 In an effort sponsored by Councilperson LaMalfa, the City Council unanimously adopted a temporary land use restriction pertaining to facilities that provide end of life and respite care by excluding “end of life and respite care” from the definition of Eleemosynary Facility. The Mayor, who had the choice to approve, veto, or ask for further discussion, approved the Temporary Ordinance that evening. The City Council did not consult with The INN Between about our programs or operations prior to adopting the Temporary Ordinance.

June 19, 2014 The Temporary Ordinance became official and architect and urban planner Ken Millo started donating his time to analyze building codes. His search uncovered that we could operate in the Convent as a Congregate Care Facility by adding a fire suppression system. Fire Engineering Company of Murray immediately stepped up to donate the entire system. The Salt Lake City Planning Department approved the plans and Fire Engineering got to work.

June 25, 2014 Mr. LaMalfa, Mr. Millo, Senator Jim Dabakis, Kim Correa, and others met with Joel Hoffman, Director of the State of Utah Department of Health in June to discuss the licensing requirements and health and safety concerns for a program like The INN Between. After receiving a written statement of activities, the Health Department determined that The INN Between was exempt from licensing requirements and provided a written statement to that effect.

August 17, 2015 Having passed final inspection on the fire suppression system, The INN Between received its Certificate of Occupancy and opened for business in the Convent, accepting our first resident that day. We accepted two additional residents during the first two weeks, experienced our first death with dignity on September 7th, and held our first memorial service on September 13th. As of November 3rd, we have provided over 433 housing nights to 20 individuals, experienced three deaths with dignity, and held two memorial services. We currently have nine residents.

Today  The INN Between is operating its small program as a Congregate Care Facility to provide a temporary home to about 12 people who are suffering from and being treated for injury or illness, with an emphasis on terminal illness. The community need is about 50 people a year.

Between now and November 17th - voice your opinion! 

November 17, 2015 Public Hearing, 7:00 pm, at the City County Building, 451 S. State Street, Room 315. 

Please show your support for making Salt Lake City a City of Compassion by allowing The INN Between to operate as an Eleemosynary Facility. Contact the Mayor and City Council, Post a Comment Online, Attend the Public Hearing!

 

Resources

Links to News Stories

Public Feedback Forum

Public Hearing Facebook Event Announcement

Overview of Proposed Zoning Ordinance Changes

Detailed Ordinance Proposal

Agenda for November 17th Public Hearing

 

 

 

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