Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donates to help Utah homeless initiatives

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah homeless initiatives are getting a boost thanks to a donation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Leaders of the Church have announced $3.3 million is being given to help provide shelter and other financial and in-kind support for Utah’s homeless population.

According to a press release sent to ABC4, five organizations in the State have received funding from the Church to help provide shelter for the homeless in 2021.

The organizations receiving the funds include The Road HomeShelter the HomelessFriends of the CoalitionSwitchpoint, and Utah Community Action

“We reach out to all of God’s children without exception,” said Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, who helps oversee the temporal needs of the global Church. “As a Church, one of our priorities is caring for those in need, and we can’t do it on our own.” 

Donations to the Charities are not from tithing money, Church members give as an extra donation, and friends of the Church who are not necessarily members also make donations.

According to the release here are the organizations across the state the donation will help:

Salt Lake

The Church is continuing its support of the Road Home in Salt Lake City, which provides shelter and other services for more than 1,700 people who are homeless in a year. The church has supported this group for more than a decade.

“Our goal is to reduce the time that anybody has to spend homeless,” says Michelle Flynn, executive director of The Road Home. “Whether it’s out on the streets or in one of our homeless resource center facilities, we know that every single day that a child spends in our shelter impacts them negatively, and we want to help them get back into their own home as quickly as possible.” 

Shelter the Homeless received funding to help with transportation services and provide security for a winter overflow shelter in Salt Lake County.

“This donation will aid us with winter temporary housing efforts to provide the unsheltered a warm bed and will also fund ongoing operations of the homeless resource centers, specifically to ensure the health, safety, and security of the staff, guests, and the surrounding community,” said Laurie G. Hopkins, executive director of Shelter the Homeless. “We are grateful for this partnership in serving the most vulnerable in our community.”

The Church Partnered with Community Action. They help keep low-income families in affordable housing by assisting with rent.

“These funds will be used to provide rental assistance to help stabilize our most vulnerable households — single-parent households with children,” said Jennifer Godfrey, chief executive officer of Utah Community Action, which assists low-income families with housing, adult education, and Head Start for children. 

“At the present time, we’re seeing a funding gap as we wait for federal and state dollars to be allocated to support eligible households in our community,” Godfrey explained. 

Provo

Provo based Friends of the Coalition is working on building 72 one-bedroom units on its existing site to provide permanent supportive housing. The Church’s support with help from other donors will fund the project.

“This project that the Church is helping us fund will be self-sustaining,” said Brent S. Crane, president, and CEO of the Food and Care Coalition, the operational entity of Friends of the Coalition. “We will not require outside funding in the future for this particular part of our programming.”

Toeele and St. George

Switchpoint plans to use funds to help construct a 150-unit homeless resource center in Tooele and add a child care facility to its St. George Campus.

In the release from the Church, Carol Hollowell, executive director of the Switchpoint Community Resource Center in St. George, said many of the working poor in the area had their hours cut or lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no place to take their children. Many of those workers are employed in the tourism industry. 

“That’s why we’re building the 24/7 child care center so that these working families can have a safe, affordable spot for their children to be,” she said. 

Bishop Waddell expressed appreciation to everyone who helps provide shelter to those who need it the most. “You are living examples of what the Savior taught about reaching out and helping others.” 

“It just warms my heart to see so many in the Utah area who have taken an active interest [in the homeless], not just a passive concern, who have rolled up their sleeves and gotten out there,” said Elder Jackson. 

For the second year in a row, the Church has increased its humanitarian budget to help provide relief during the pandemic.

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