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New homeless shelters begin taking men, but state officials say overflow may be needed

Posted at 7:05 AM, Oct 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-06 09:05:59-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Men have begun moving into the new homeless shelter that just opened, the Utah Department of Workforce Services said.

In an update on the status of new shelters, the agency on Friday said men are leaving The Road Home’s downtown shelter in the Rio Grande neighborhood for the Gail Miller Resource Center at 242 W. Paramount Ave. The new shelter has 160 beds for men and 40 beds for women.

The women’s beds are already occupied, DWS reported. Men are expected to transition from one shelter to the next for another week.

It’s a significant step as the state moves to close the downtown shelter and move people to smaller facilities scattered across the Salt Lake Valley. It’s been the source of some controversy as some neighborhoods have resisted the concept of shelters moving into their areas and bed space remains a concern (the new shelters are smaller). As construction and other delays have impacted the projects, the deadlines have been altered — now the plan is to move people to the newer shelters as bed space becomes available and slowly close the downtown shelter.

Mayoral candidates Erin Mendenhall and Luz Escamilla have both expressed concern at the pace of the construction of the newer shelters, and whether it means more people will be spending the winter on the streets.

In its update, DWS said St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall will serve as an overflow shelter on nights it is needed. The dining hall run by Catholic Community Services also does double-duty as a shelter space from October to April.