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Race, Religion & Social Justice

Salt Lake City's Homeless Shelters Are Filling Up Quickly And Calling For Donations

Jon Reed

With winter quickly approaching, Salt Lake City’s homeless service providers are turning to the community for support. Operators of the city’s two brand new shelters – The Gail Miller Resource Center for men and women, and the Geraldine E. King for women – as well as a third coming in November, are calling for everything from volunteer time to winter clothing, particularly gloves and socks. 

That’s because Salt Lake City’s new shelters are filling up at record pace and when the third shelter opens, the long-running Road Home emergency shelter downtown is expected to close its doors. 

Credit Jon Reed / KUER

The city’s struggles persist despite the state’s strong economy and low unemployment. September’s jobs report showed Utah has added some 45,000 jobs since last year and consistently ranks among the top of the fastest growing states. 

But that has also come at a price for some of Salt Lake’s most vulnerable people. 

“The rents are going up and there's not as much inventory, especially for the deeply affordable units that a lot of our guests need,” said Matthew Melville, who, as the director of homeless services at Catholic Community Services, will help run one of the new shelters. “I even have friends, you know, that have well-paying jobs and are having a hard time finding units.”

Homelessness is a statewide issue in Utah, according to the recent annual report on homelessness. And despite receiving national attention in 2015 after reducing chronic homelessness by 91%, Utah has made little progress in reducing the stagnant number of people living without shelter. 

The problem is perhaps most apparent in Salt Lake City, where many of the state’s most vital resources are concentrated and homeless resource centers are running out of beds and supplies. 

“We have not turned people away from shelter and we are not going to,” said Matt Minkevitch, executive director of the Road Home. “We are fully committed to making sure that that does not happen.”

For anyone struggling to think of what to donate, Kathy Bray of Volunteers of America had some advice on what to give. 

“You start by thinking about yourselves,” she said. “What do you do when you get up in the morning? What things do you use?”

She said anyone experiencing homelessness could likely use them, too.

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