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Homeless shelters at capacity as winter looms

Posted at 6:15 PM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 20:29:03-04

SALT LAKE CITY —The final of the three homeless shelters opening as part of Operation Rio Grande is set to open in Nov. The plan is for the current Road Home Shelter in Downtown Salt Lake City to close 30 days after the final shelter opens.

With the three shelters, there will be 700 available beds for the homeless. Last week, an average of 830 people needed a place to sleep each night, according to Christina Davis with the Dept. Workforce Services.

The option of keeping the Road Home’s homeless shelter open through the winter months is still on the table Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox told the Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday.

No one is being turned away, Jonathan Hardy the Divison Dir. Housing and Community Development Dept. Workforce Services said.

“There are a lot of people working on this issue all the time and we are working on term solution, long term solutions, nobody is being turned away,” he said.

No matter what is decided, Bill Tibbitts said this decision should have been made six months ago.

“It’s really important that we have a place for people to get inside and it’s really frustrating that state officials aren’t further along in figuring out what they want to do,” the Associate Dir. Of the Crossroads Urban Center said.

There is an average of about 100 more people seeking homeless services this year, Hardy said.

“We are trying to understand why it’s happening before we make any real steps on what we are going to do about it,” he said.

The upcoming cold weather has many on edge.

“Some people die, some people make it through it.. but not with every limb,” a formerly homeless woman said. The woman was homeless for five years and hopes something is done so people have a warm place.

“How would you feel if you were freezing outside and no one really cared or stopped to say, ‘hey here’s a blanket’ or ‘would you like a warm place to go?’ she said.

Hardy said the real solution is affordable housing.

There will be a meeting next week to discuss the future of the Road Home Shelter as well as look at the homeless situation overall.