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Homeless Can Still Access Shelter Without New ID Card

Tim Slover / KUER
Officials fenced off the median on Rio Grande street this summer. The entire street will soon be closed to the general public.

Homeless people in Salt Lake City will be able to access emergency shelter, meals and other services at The Road Home this winter, even if they don’t sign up for the state’s new homeless identification card.

Salt Lake City residents told Mayor Jackie Biskupski earlier this week they were worried the new ID cards would prevent people from accessing overnight shelter when the temperatures drop. The Department of Workforce Services says it won’t.

While homeless people can still get into The Road Home, starting next week, they’ll need the ID to access a new so-called safe space. That’s a fenced off area on Rio Grande Street between The Road Home and Catholic Community Services. The area will have restrooms, hand-washing stations as well as police presence and security cameras. It’s all meant to keep criminals at bay.

The card will also be required to get services at the Weigand Resource Center, but that organization already requires a special ID.

State and local leaders created the safe space when they started Operation Rio Grande this summer to crack down on crime and drugs in the downtown Salt Lake City neighborhood. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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