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Mayor Went Undercover to Experience Homelessness For Himself

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Leaving his office on Friday with no money, or ID, Mayor Ben McAdams walked into Salt Lake City's most troubled neighborhoods.

He wasn't there to campaign or shake hands with those in need, instead he was dressed in jeans, sneakers and a hoodie. His goal was to spend 3 days and 2 nights walking and sleeping among the city's homeless and drug-addicted citizens of Salt Lake City's Rio Grande neighborhood.

He kept his experience private for months until finally agreeing to talk to Deseret News.

He chose to keep his weekend on the streets and in homeless shelters private because until now because he didn't want it to seem like a cheap stunt to impress news sources and the public.

"I was concerned that it not look like a publicity stunt in the face of human suffering," the mayor said.

Instead he wanted to use his experience to help him deepen his understanding of the current homeless system before he decided which neighborhood would house a third homeless resource center.

After nearly a month of heated public meetings and fury from residents, he felt like something was still missing from enabling him to make an informed decision.

"I needed to see firsthand, to understand the complexity of the recommendation I was being asked to make," he said.

So what did he learn? Continue to the next page to see his first hand experience in the downtown shelter.

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