SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – We’re hearing from homeless advocates about the state of Utah’s homelessness crisis. Last week the Salt Lake City Council extended a pause on building new shelters in Salt Lake City while leaders determine the locations best suited for them. But where does that leave the thousands of Utahns who are still on the streets without a home?
Homeless advocates at the State department of homeless services say the main goal is not only to place people into permanent supportive housing but to provide ways for them to stay there.
Last week, Governor Spencer Cox signed House Bill 440 which will set aside funds for homeless services around the state in an effort to get people off the streets.
One woman ABC4 spoke with, Alma Bennett, who is a resident at Pamela’s Place permanent shelter says, “it’s so good to have your own home.’ Bennett says she experienced homelessness for five years and the services provided by Pamela’s place have been nothing short of a blessing. “When you move in you have your laundry, basket, plates, and cups, and pantry order where you can have food sent up to you” explains Bennett.
Thanks to charitable efforts like the Pamela Atkinson trust fund, donated funds are distributed to agencies throughout the state that provides vital resources for those who are experiencing homelessness.
Atkinson speaking with ABC4, says roughly 3,500 people are on the streets across the state due to homelessness, that’s not accounting for the unsheltered who may have recently fallen on hard times.
The trust fund is leveraged with other state funding to provide the maximum impact for three key areas:
- Emergency services – temporary shelters, soup kitchens, day centers, and outreach services
- Supportive services – varying levels of case management used to help more people move into and maintain stable housing
- Housing services – rapid rehousing, transitional housing, rental assistance, on-site case management, and security
“Every penny donated goes to the office of homeless services in the Department of Workforce Services,” Atkinson tells ABC4.
As ABC4 previously reported, the Salt Lake City council held a meeting where they’re likely to end the moratorium which would mean it could be up to another year before more shelters are built in Salt Lake City.
Atkinson says the burden of providing shelter fallen in Salt Lake goes back about 25 years but perhaps the burden could be shared with another city to provide resources while making sure there’s no drug trafficking allowed. “Is there another way we can have another building outside of Salt Lake City that provides all the services” explains Pamela Atkinson.
Atkinson tells ABC4 She’s working with state leaders like Governor, Spencer Cox and others to make sure the unsheltered who wants the help will be able to have resources afforded to them.
Atkinson wants people to know even the slightest donation goes a long way, “they may not see the difference, but I see the difference on a daily basis and I’m still doing boots on the ground.”
So what can you do to help?
- Donate to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund on your 2021 Utah state tax forms.
- Donations can also easily be made online at jobs.utah.gov/htf.
- Volunteer your time and talent with organizations such as The Road Home, Volunteers of America Utah, Catholic Community Services, Lantern House, and SwitchPoint. There are many organizations throughout the state, to find an organization in your community visit 211Utah.org