Forum to Discuss Olympic Impacts

Landlords kicking students and other low-income individuals out of their homes, shifting modes of transportation and the merit of Games-time employment are subjects of a panel held tonight at the College of Law.

Hosted by the College of Law?s Public Interest Law Organization, ?Olympics? Impact on Salt Lake’s Low Income Community? starts at 7 p.m. in the College of Law?s Moot Courtroom, preceded by a reception at 6:30 p.m.

?We knew that it was an issue that different people in public-interest organizations around town were kind of looking at,? said Public Interest Law Organization Vice President Kathy Wyer. A public forum will allow the organizations to discuss what issues they are finding, she said.

Glenn Bailey, director of the Crossroads Urban Center, will address the variety of challenges which face Salt Lake City?s low-income population during the Olympics.

Crossroads Urban Center is a non-profit organization which assists and organizes low income, disabled, and minority Utahns to meet basic survival needs and to address basic issues affecting quality of life.

Bailey has examined the Games? impact for more than six years, working primarily to mitigate negative effects upon low-income people and people of color and help. He hopes to help them and those with disabilities benefit from the Games.

Bailey is concerned about housing loss and increased stress upon social-service providers and homeless shelters and soup kitchens during the Games. He worries that around Christmas time, landlords will evict their tenants to make way for high paying Olympic visitors, such as media and government officials.

He criticized a legislative measure that diverted $7.5 million from housing projects to promoting tourism during the Games.

?Are homeless people going to get swept off the streets? Is there going to be adequate shelter? Are people going to get displaced from their homes? Some of that?s already occurred. All those questions will be answered in the next few months,? Bailey said.

Panelist Linda Hilton is chair of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee?s humanitarian services board, which has met for the last three years to look at the Olympic impact on Salt Lake?s homeless and low income population. Hilton is interested in not only shelter and housing for these individuals, but health care, transportation and other issues.

University of Utah and Westminster College students evicted from their dorms can belong to this population, she said. ?We?ve had lots of complaints, unfortunately, there?s not a lot we can do. All we can do is supply a list of resources, help [people] if they need to store their stuff,? she said.

Specifically, Hilton will talk about how changes in the transportation system will affect the U area. She expects questions like, ?When are the bus schedules going to change?? but acknowledges, ?There?s a lot of issues.?

One issue Hilton wants to discuss is Games-time employment, which she feels won?t act as a panacea for the low-income population during the Games.

?The jobs that are available now are highly skilled jobs [such as human resources specialists]. They need the bigger people with degrees and experience and expertise,? she said. ?Unless you?re some kind of a specialist, there really isn?t a job for you.?

Hilton is critical of SLOC?s ?hype? about getting a great paying job. ?For the most part, that?s not going to happen,? she said. ?I wish that the information out there was a little more clear.?

Hilton questions how anxious people will be to quit a job at Pizza Hut to shovel snow for $5.15 an hour for 20 days. For the population she works with, day care, disability or transportation issues make even shovelling snow a challenge.

?How are people living downtown going to get to Park City? Are they going to give them free bus rides?? she said. ?Where are they going to stay for 17 days in Park City working minimum wage? It?s not a reality.?

Judy Mayorga, an attorney with Utah Legal Services, will discuss housing issues facing low-income people during the Olympics. Patrick Corum, an attorney with Salt Lake Legal Defenders, will speak on criminalization of the homeless during the Olympics.

A staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Janelle Eurick will talk about Olympic issues regarding legal oberservers, specifically soliciting U students to volunteer as observers and attend demonstrations to witness the proceedings.

?Legal observers are a standard tool that people use during demonstrations to combat excessive force by police officers [and] witness in court,? Eurick said.

The program is organized in conjunction with an annual national campaign near the first Monday of October, the day the U.S. Supreme Court opens its session. Each year?s theme is intended to spread awareness and discussion of a different issue of social justice. Last year?s theme was gun violence. The forum is free and open to the public.

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