OGDEN -- The Ogden City Council unanimously approved donating 1.1 acres of land to make more room for the chronically homeless.
The approved resolution donates the 1.1 acres on the southeast corner of 33rd Street and Pacific Avenue to the Ogden Housing Authority to construct a housing center for the chronically homeless.
The new center will be adjacent to the proposed St. Anne's Center shelter.
The housing authority felt the donation is justified even though the 40-unit center does not provide immediate financial returns to the city. City code dictates all property conveyances be made in the best and highest economic return to the city, but makes an exception if the council determines the property transfer is in the best interest of the public.
"The proposed resolution also states that the highest and best economic return cannot be measured by a traditional cash transaction," the proposal reads. It goes on to state that the benefits to the city come from alleviating social problems and minimizing the hardship on people who need those services.
With its unanimous vote, the council agreed with the housing authority and made the exception.
About 86 people are chronically homeless in Weber County, according to the annual statewide homeless count this year. To be chronically homeless, someone has been homeless for at least a year or has been homeless at least four times in the past three years. The chronically homeless make up only 5 percent of the homeless population in the state, but they use 50 to 60 percent of available resources, including hospital visits, emergency response and jail stays, according to the Utah Division of Housing and Community Development.
The new center would save the city money by reducing crime and by reintegrating the chronically homeless into housing and the workforce, according to the proposal. The center would also free up resources for the temporarily homeless.
The city bought 8 acres of land at 33rd Street and Pacific Avenue in 2001 for $750,095. A federal grant paid for a little more than half of the purchase, stipulating the land be used for storm and sewer water projects.
Then about two years ago, city administration decided the spot would be the best choice for a new homeless center because of its proximity to public transportation and other public services.
Attorneys for the city determined that building the center on the land is fine as long as some portion of the 8-acre site is used for storm water detention, according to the proposal.
As part of the project, the housing authority must install fire access roads on an adjacent lot and pay for any storm water it cannot detain in lieu of a storm water fee.
Construction of the center is expected to begin by early 2013. The city retains the right to use the property for another project if construction has not started by the end of that year.
The center is separate from the 5-acre expansion of St. Anne's Center, which will be built on the same block. That center is primarily intended for the temporarily homeless, Assistant City Attorney Mark Stratford said.