(KUTV)- Thanks to the Downtown Alliance, Salt Lake City, and Visit Salt Lake, the first "Downtown Street Ambassador Program" launched Thursday.
The Ambassador Program has three purposes:
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.
Provide an additional level of safety and security in busier parts of downtown. Our ambassadors are able to communicate with dispatch (just like any other citizen) in case of an emergency.
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.
"The Ambassador Program aims to create an even more welcoming and safe city center for residents and visitors, as well as providing additional outreach efforts for people experiencing homelessness,” Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said. “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 initial phase of the program started in early Nov., and since the beginning of Feb., the Ambassadors have attracted quite the attention downtown patrolling in their bright yellow uniforms. Staring in April, up to a dozen Ambassadors will be seen in areas throughout the summer and fall. Ambassadors will patrol the streets between 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m., daily and during the winter months from 9 to 5:30 p.m.
“Our ambassadors are already making a big difference, helping visitors and locals find their ways and feel even more welcome in downtown,” Downtown Alliance executive director Jason Mathis said. “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.”
According to a press release, "the Salt Lake Program was modeled after the Chicago Loop Alliance, including contracting services with StreetsPlus, a national company who specializes in providing ambassador services in several major cities." Representatives from both organizations joined Salt Lake City’s leaders for Thursday's launch.