New homeless shelter opens in Ogden

Posted at 3:35 PM, Jun 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-16 18:41:03-04

OGDEN -- It was standing room only at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Lantern House, but for the people who will be living there it's already more space than they had.

"They've got everything around," said Laura McNamee, who has been staying at nearby St. Anne's Center.

Lantern House, which is replacing St. Anne's, is 20,000 square feet bigger. It will have 300 beds to St. Anne's 110 (with people sleeping on the floor) in separate areas for women, families and men.

Operators of Lantern House say it will provide more space.

Operators of Lantern House say it will provide more space.

"We have a tremendous amount of more space," said Jennifer Canter, the director of Lantern House. "We're going to be able to provide so many services to so many people in such a much better surrounding than where we came from."

Lantern House will have in-house medical and dental clinics, where people will have access to low-cost health care. It also has a diversion wing, the first of its kind in a Utah shelter, where people who are intoxicated or having a mental crisis can go instead of an emergency room or jail. The secure facility will save costs in medical bills and bail, as well spare some people a criminal history.

"It's meant to save money in the community," Canter said.

The diversion wing in Lantern House.

The diversion wing in Lantern House.

The Ogden Police Department will have an office in the shelter, where people can report problems or get help.

Lantern House is on 33rd Street, down Wall Avenue from St. Anne's. The old shelter has had problems with crosswalks -- in recent years, five people have died in auto-pedestrian accidents. The Utah Department of Transportation installed crosswalks, and Canter said the agency is looking at whether they will be necessary near the new shelter. The Utah Transit Authority has put in a nearby bus stop.

"That was a huge advantage to us," Canter said.

It took five years and $8 million to build Lantern House, which was raised through community donations.

"It's fantastic. It's needed so much," said Utah philanthropist Spence Eccles. "It's been done so well, it's future is so bright and imagine what it's going to mean to so many people."

Lantern House is slated to begin sheltering people by mid-July. Canter said they will need volunteers to help keep it going. Information on how to volunteer can be found here.