The Downtown Alliance, Salt Lake City, and Visit Salt Lake announced the new “Downtown Street Ambassador Program” today.
The initial phase of the program has been operational since November 1. Since the beginning of February, the Ambassadors have begun patrolling downtown in bright yellow uniforms. Starting in April, up to a dozen Ambassadors will be deployed in significant pedestrian thoroughfares throughout the summer and fall. Ambassadors will then be visible between 7:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m., daily. During the winter months, they patrol from 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
“The Ambassador Program aims to create an even more welcoming and safe city center for residents and visitors, as well as to provide additional outreach efforts for people experiencing homelessness,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “This ambassador program is yet another service the city is excited to provide, along with our partners at the Downtown Alliance and Visit Salt Lake.”
The purpose of the Ambassador Program is three-fold:
1. Answer questions about where to go, what to see and what to do for newcomers to downtown, whether they are traveling from other parts of Utah, nationally or internationally.
2. Provide an additional level of safety and security in busier parts of downtown. Our ambassadors can communicate with dispatch (just like any other citizen) in case of an emergency.
3. Act as the eyes and ears for our homeless population, to ensure these community members are aware of service providers, and how and where to take advantage of hot meals or a bed, should they choose. Ambassadors are not security officers or police officers: they carry no weapons and are there purely and simply to help.
“Our ambassadors are already making a big difference, helping visitors and locals find their ways and feel even more welcome in downtown,” said Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jason Mathis. “They are also working with panhandlers or homeless people who may need to access services. Downtown belongs to everyone, and this program is just one more way we are working to help everyone feel welcome in our urban center.”
An ambassador program is a first for Salt Lake City, but similar programs have been successful in other large metropolitan areas, specifically Chicago. The Salt Lake Program models the Chicago Loop Alliance, including contracting services with StreetsPlus, a national company that specializes in providing ambassador services in several major cities. Representatives from both organizations joined Salt Lake City’s leaders for today’s launch.
Photo: Isaac Riddle