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Salt Lake City has halted for now plans to open a hospice for the homeless.
Earlier this week, the City Council passed a temporary land-use regulation that would delay the August opening of The INN Between until mid-December.
Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, who sponsored the ordinance, said the council wanted the hospice at the former Guadalupe School, 344 S. Goshen St., to be licensed by the state "to provide health, safety and sanitation for people in a group setting."
LaMalfa added that there is a way forward for The INN Between to meet those basic requirements.
But Kim Correa, executive director of The INN Between, said waiting that long could kill the young nonprofit organization.
"In six months," she said, "we might not be around."
The hospice, according to Correa, would allow homeless people, who presently can care for themselves but have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, a safe place to live.
"Our goal is to get them off the street," she said. "They're afraid of being robbed, beat up or molested."
Medical care would be provided through Canyon Home Care & Hospice, an organization that offers home health care. Nurses and physicians would visit The INN Between to see residents as needed.
Correa added that when residents no longer could care for themselves, they would be transferred to a skilled nursing facility.
The INN Between fills "a gap in the end-of-life process for homeless people," she said. "We are the only organization attempting to do this. This is something that needs to be done."
Further, Correa said, she has been working with the Salt Lake City Planning Department on upgrades for the old Catholic school.
But, she added, the council voted, without any prior indication, to require The INN Between to be licensed by the state. The cost to bring the building to that standard could doom the project, she said.
Council Chairman Luke Garrott, however, said the council wanted to ensure that such a hospice has all safety precautions in place when it opened. "We want these types of facilities here," he said. "But the rush to get into the building did not make us comfortable. Taking six months to make sure made sense."
Although Correa characterized the council's actions as sudden, LaMalfa said that he had four or five discussions during the past months with Correa regarding licensing and basic safety.
"If there is a fire, there has to be a sufficient staff to wheel [the residents] out of the building," he said. "There is a basic level of health and safety, and government has to ensure that people have that."
Late Thursday, Correa said she had communicated with Jill Love, the acting director of community and economic development, and hoped further discussions would bring a better understanding to City Hall of the services the hospice hopes to provide to homeless people as they near the end of their lives.