Homeless people poured into the Salt Palace Convention Center early Friday morning to get a whole range of services from haircuts to family planning as part of the city’s first annual Project Homeless Connect.
“Let’s skip dental. Let’s go straight to the haircut,” says Liza Parker. She’s a recovering alcoholic who lives at The Road Home. She’s what you might call proactive.
She takes clipboard from a volunteer and flips through the list of services to find what she needs.
“I don’t need baby your baby,” she says. “I don’t need any of that. I don’t know what homeless outreach is. Let’s do that.”
Parker was one of many people who came in to get help.
More than 500 volunteers and service providers convened in the convention space to provide healthcare, eyeglasses, veterinary services and even professional photography.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski was on hand to help. She wants this event to happen every year.
“As we work and meet people where they are, we realize that there was a real disconnect on just assuming people knew where to get help.”
The event comes about two months after the crime sweep called Operation Rio Grande. Organizers said that made outreach for the event difficult because it drove so many homeless people out of the neighborhood.