Salt Lake City man creates homeless camp in yard, challenges mayor to ‘do something’

U.S. & World

(KSL/NBC News) A Salt Lake City, Utah man who grew upset watching the homeless being pushed from neighborhood to neighborhood in recent months has opened up a space for them in his front yard.

“In the middle of January, we started up this unsheltered camp to help people struggling with homelessness,” explained Darin Mann, who also grows produce on the property for the surrounding community under his non-profit, The Village Cooperative.

Mann says he has room on the lawn for up to 15 people. Several tents are currently set up.

“That was pretty intense when I had 15 people here, so I think 10 is the sweet spot,” he says.

Mann says unsheltered campers have to abide by rules on the property, including no drugs and no violence.

Michael and Brandy Najera are two of the campers currently staying in Mann’s yard, and say they’ve been faring pretty well.

“We actually quit our addictions here,” Brandy Najera says. “It’s been a blessing.”

Mann said he doesn’t intend to have an unsheltered camp forever in the yard, but he hoped there were better solutions in general to address the ongoing homeless crisis and specifically there was perhaps a space or land that the city could donate to the homeless to help the situation.

“I’m fed up with the performance of our mayor, and so I’m kind of showing her I can do it on my house, why can’t you do it with all of your city funds — when are you going to do something about it?” Mann said. “If she wants to work with the state and other cities — because I do feel the city is unduly burdened with our homeless crisis — then she should reach out to different non-profits that are doing this work so that we can talk to the legislature. Right now we’re in a session and we can find that solution.”

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