SALT LAKE CITY — As cold weather settles into Utah, homeless service providers are actively seeking about 200 more temporary beds in Salt Lake County.
“Around 50 degrees, hypothermia is a reality. It can happen especially when you’re exposed to the elements and getting wet and you don’t have the proper attire on to stay warm,” said Unsheltered Utah organizer Nate Kizerian.
The Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness tells FOX 13 News that plans are in place to provide about 110 overflow beds this winter. However, they’re still looking to secure about 200 more.
“Over the winter, it makes sense to provide additional, flexible overflow beds because people are more willing to utilize them in the winter and we know we’ve had a huge unsheltered homeless problem this year,” said coalition co-chair Rob Wesemann.
On Monday, Mayor Erin Mendenhall proposed spending $1 million in federal funds to help with an emergency winter shelter.
“We want to provide that indoor, safe, warm space for folks, so really we can get them connected to additional resources to end their homelessness,” Wesemann said.
Last winter, Unsheltered Utah distributed hundreds of tents, sleeping bags and warm clothing. They’re hoping to do the same this year and are asking for community donations.
“We are trying to put a Band-aid on a hemorrhage. We really need everybody to buy in,” said Unsheltered Utah’s Christine Stenquist.
The Coalition to End Homelessness hopes to have overflow for about 50 people open up any day now at the St. Vincent de Paul dining hall in downtown Salt Lake City.