SALT LAKE CITY – City leaders celebrated the success of a homeless outreach program that was launched with a goal of connecting homeless people with social service providers and other resources.
HOST, or Homeless Outreach Service Team, was launched in 2011, and several local businesses have sponsored red HOST meters downtown where people can donate money to HOST instead of giving it to panhandlers.
The money gathered is distributed to service providers through the Pamela J. Atkinson Foundation, according to a press release.
Chief Chris Burbank of the Salt Lake City Police Department said it’s important to connect the right resources to people who need them.
“We’ve demonstrated time and time again that if we can get people the services they need, whether that’s for drug and alcohol dependence, whether that’s housing, they stop engaging in criminal activity,” he said. “They stop being victimized by those people who are really the problem.”
Police officials said they encourage people to donate to programs like HOST rather than directly to panhandlers, because the donations to HOST go toward helping the homeless community.
Burbank was at Wednesday’s event offering an update on the success of the program, and he was joined by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, community advocate Pamela Atkinson, Fourth Street Clinic CEO Kristy Chambers, Downtown Alliance Executive Director Jason Mathis, Bishop John C. Wester and other community leaders .