Utah’s homeless facing below-average temps

Posted at 5:45 PM, Jan 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-02 00:49:14-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Cold temperatures across northern Utah are challenging the state's homeless.

Temperatures have been about five degrees below normal for the last couple of days, with overnight lows in the teens. St. Mark's Hospital says they've noticed an increase in hypothermia cases as Utah's homeless struggle in the cold.

There haven't been reports of hypothermia-related deaths so far this winter. The Salt Lake Mission believes it's because a few shelters are extending their hours and others are open on weekends.

They say that since the cold snap started around Christmas, more homeless have come to the shelters for coats, scarves, food and a bed for the night.

"I think people are opening their doors and letting people come in. Some are sleeping in their cars and camps out there," said Brad Jaques with the Salt Lake Mission.

Another reason for the extra people at shelters is the 13 percent increase in homelessness in Utah, particularly among women and children.

The Christian Life Center on Redwood Road in Salt Lake City hosted a New Year's dinner and handed out coats for Utahns in need.

"They're usually like new coats and stuff, they're really nice," said Tiara Fell. "We sometimes walk out here and look at the people sleeping and we don't know how they can do that. We are thankful we're in somewhere warm, just to be somewhere safe."