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Urgent call for volunteers at Salt Lake City homeless shelters

Posted at 7:06 AM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 18:44:07-05

SALT LAKE CITY — With a major snowstorm bearing down on the state, Utahns are being asked to help the people who don’t have a way to shelter themselves from the cold and snowy weather.

READ: Utah organizations step up to provide resources for homeless individuals during winter weather

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall is joining several volunteer organizations to stress the need for homeless shelters throughout the winter months.

The Salt Lake City homeless services dashboard shows all of the shelters are around 98 percent full every night.

Just last month, an audit presented to the Utah State Legislature found that homelesness has shot up more than 200 percent since 2016.

READ: SLC program helped fight homelessness and hunger during pandemic

“Still running into staffing shortages,” said Andrew Johnston, Director of Homeless Policy and Outreach for the city. “Volunteers of America is trying very hard to get more staff there so they can help there as soon as possible."

Salt Lake City runs several shelters year-round but has opened a few temporary shelters for this winter.

Homeless centers are also in need of winter clothing donations, everything from coats, gloves hats and footwear are needed.

“Shelter staff and volunteers play such an important role in the lives of the unsheltered population and providers cannot function without them,” said Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “Salt Lakers are known for their service and compassion and I hope those looking for work or for service opportunities will consider one of the many open positions within the homeless services system.”

Both paid staff and volunteers are needed to handle the increased demand, with Volunteers of America, The Road Home, and Utah Community Action now advertising more than 100 paid positions, nearly half of which relate to shelter programs.

“The Road Home is pleased to be able to support Salt Lake City and County and our residents who are in desperate need of safe shelter by expanding our overflow operations to an additional facility,” said Michelle Flynn Executive Director of The Road Home.

“We are working together with our partners to hire and train team members and support opening the additional facility to provide safe, warm shelter as soon as possible.”

For more information on volunteer opportunities, visit the websites of Volunteers of America Utah, The Road Home, and Utah Community Action.