Homelessness has been a major focus for the state legislature, especially looking at supporting Operation Rio Grande in Salt Lake City.
- Operation Rio Grande recently hit the six-month mark. That has been a monumental effort by the state, city, county and community partners.
- They’re seeing a reduction in crime in the area, and have opened a Safe Space and implemented an ID card system to enhance safety for people accessing services in the area.
- Nearly 200 additional treatment beds have been added to support mental health and addiction recovery.
- Four full-time Workforce Services employment counselors are working with homeless individuals on personalized employment plans, and 22 employers have pledged to include homeless individuals in their hiring efforts.
While progress is being made with Operation Rio Grande, there are still everyday needs for people experiencing homelessness.
- Fortunately, we have great service providers that work hard to fill those needs, not just in Salt Lake City, but in every part of the state, from Logan to St. George.
- Organizations like The Road Home provide emergency shelter and connect people to long-term housing resources.
- People experiencing homelessness can walk into the Wiegand Center, which is operated by Catholic Community Services, and access showers, laundry, help with legal issues, employment opportunities and more.
- The Fourth Street Clinic provides totally free medical care to people experiencing homelessness.
How can regular Utahns get involved and make a difference?
- It’s tax season, which oddly enough, is the perfect time for people to help their homeless neighbors.
- The state has made it so easy to make a donation to these wonderful organizations that we have just been talking about.
- Simply donate to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund on your Utah State Tax Form. If you’re filing online, look for the “Contributions” section, and you’ll see that the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund is item 02. Just enter the amount you want to donate, and you’re done!
- The fund is named for Pamela Atkinson, a well-known advocate for Utah’s homeless for many years. She joked the other day that she wasn’t sure how she felt about something being named for her while she’s still alive. But she’s a great example of supporting individuals and families in our own community who are less fortunate than ourselves.
- Donations go right to dozens of organizations in every part of the state that help homeless individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness.