Sugar House Temporary Shelter Frequently Asked Questions:
What, exactly, is happening?
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, the State of Utah, Shelter the Homeless, and other service provider partners are working toward a change to winter homeless shelter accommodations. At a special meeting on January 17, the Council approved an ordinance for zoning regulations to allow for a temporary overflow homeless shelter at the vacant RDA-owned building at 2234 Highland Drive. The temporary overflow shelter space began operating on January 23 and will continue until April 15, 2020. The Weigand Center will continue to operate as a day shelter and the hub for homeless services, but will no longer function as an overnight warming center. From the Weigand Center, people seeking overnight shelter will be offered shelter at St. Vincent de Paul or provided transportation to one of the three Homeless Resource Centers (HRCs) or the Sugar House Temporary Shelter (STS). The STS will operate only as an overnight shelter, with transportation back to the Weigand Center in the morning, and will not remain open for shelter during the day.
While we know that we are yet again asking Salt Lake City, and in particular residents and businesses in Sugar House, to step up and help our neediest neighbors, Mayor Mendenhall and the City Council are confident that we will do this with compassion, understanding, and a commitment to finding better long-term solutions. We believe that the residents of Salt Lake City stand with us in our belief that no one who seeks shelter this winter should be turned away. The City won’t do this alone and we are working with the State and Salt Lake County to secure some financial resources to assist the service providers with staffing and transportation needs.
Why is this necessary?
In 2015, then-County Mayor Ben McAdams launched the Collective Impact to End Homelessness. After an intensive stakeholder process involving the state, the county, cities, service providers, and others, the collective decision was made to close the downtown homeless shelter run by The Road Home and replace it with three separate Homeless Resource Centers (HRCs). As we have transitioned into these three HRCs over the past 6 months, despite best efforts of all providers, two things have been unclear: first, whether using the Weigand Center as an overnight warming center has been working as intended; and second, whether everyone seeking a shelter bed has been accommodated as the HRCs are at or very near capacity most nights in colder temperatures. While the Weigand Center has provided a place for unsheltered people to stop in and warm up, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and State officials are concerned that people who really need beds must sit in chairs overnight instead.
When does the shelter open?
The shelter begins operating on Thursday, January 23. The shelter will be open to those in need from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.
Who will be using the overflow shelter at the Sugar House Temporary Shelter? What is the occupancy?
Men and women seeking temporary overnight shelter who cannot be accommodated at an HRC, St. Vincent De Paul’s, or with motel/hotel vouchers. The maximum occupancy at the STS will be 145 to ensure the safety of building occupants.
How many beds are actually available to homeless people?
Currently, our Homeless Resource Centers have capacity for 700, St. Vincent de Paul 50, and the Sugar House Temporary Shelter 145, for a total of 895. We also have the ability to place people in motels on a case-by-case basis. These numbers do not account for privately organized shelters or rehab beds. The Midvale Family Center will continue to serve a capacity of up to 300.
How will we ensure the safety of participants at the STS and the surrounding community?
To ensure the safety of the clients at the STS private security guards will be a part of staffing. In addition, Salt Lake City Police Department and Utah Highway Patrol are coordinating to do their part to provide a safe environment for those seeking shelter at the STS. While we do not anticipate that our unsheltered neighbors pose any additional threat to the neighborhood, Salt Lake City’s Community Connection team and law enforcement personnel will have additional presence in the neighborhood and Fairmont Park while the STS is operating.
How long will the STS be utilized?
The temporary land use regulation permitting use of the proposed building for overnight shelter will expire on April 15, 2020. This regulation is subject to City Council consideration at the special meeting on January 17th, 2020.
Who will staff the STS?
Shelter the Homeless will manage the STS, as it does with the other HRCs. A network of service providers will be contributing staff.
How will people get to and from the shelter?
Transportation to both the Sugar House Temporary Shelter and the South Salt Lake Men’s Shelter will be available from the Weigand Center, and after the Weigand Center closes at 11 p.m., from St. Vincent de Paul. Return transportation will be available back to the center in the morning.
What will happen with the Weigand Center?
The Weigand Center will continue to operate with full services until 7 p.m. each night, and will remain open solely as a warming center until 11 p.m. At 11 p.m., the Weigand Center will close, and those in need of services will be directed to St. Vincent de Paul.
How do we know this won’t happen next winter?
Salt Lake City will join many others as part of the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness’s subcommittee to develop a winter overflow shelter solution before next winter. We will ensure that Salt Lake City is not alone taking on the entire responsibility for sheltering the unsheltered. This subcommittee is open to public participation. Furthermore, in terms of using this site next winter, this building is slated for redevelopment and will not be available as a possible site.
How can I help?
The number one thing we can all do to help is to show compassion for our unsheltered residents as we continue to work toward better solutions, including permanent affordable housing. In the coming weeks, there will be efforts to organize volunteers who would like to support the STS. If you would like to contribute meals, goods, or dollars, please donate to the participating service providers, including Shelter the Homeless, Volunteers of America, the Road Home, Catholic Community Services, Odyssey House, and the Red Cross. Donations are accepted at any of the three HRCs, and there are helpful links to service providers, including what items they need, at the City’s main page for this issue: www.slc.gov/temporary-shelter.
Where can I go to find information, get updates, or report problems?
We’ll be posting all current information at www.slc.gov/temporary-shelter. You can also call 801.535.7711 or email email@example.com to leave a message with comments or questions. City staff will make every effort to return calls and emails within one business day.
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