SANDY, Utah (ABC4) – The Sandy City Council approved a code amendment that will allow a local non-profit to operate a Medically Vulnerable People (MVP) Program for interim housing for the homeless.

Shelter the Homeless submitted an application, in early August, to turn the former Econolodge Inn & Suites, at 8955 South 255 West, into transitional housing for seniors and medically vulnerable individuals who are experiencing homelessness.

Last night, Oct. 3, the Sandy City Council approved the amended code so the application could be processed. The City Council reports it has been working closely with Shelter the Homeless to work out the impact on the city.

“The Sandy City Council worked diligently over the last four weeks to mitigate any impacts to Sandy to the greatest extent possible. That hard work produced a Memorandum of Understanding between Sandy and Shelter the Homeless that gives greater assurances as to how this facility will operate,” said Sandy City Council Chair Brooke D’Sousa. “We look forward to a continued partnership with Shelter the Homeless as we navigate any challenges that may arise once operational.”

In order for the application to proceed Sandy had to amend its current code defining transitional housing. The code formerly defined traditional housing as a facility that provides free temporary housing to homeless persons for no more than 30 days while they stabilize their circumstances. The code clarifies that this does include a homeless shelter, a dwelling unit used for more than 30 days, and a residential facility for persons with a disability.

The code change regarding the definition of “transitional housing” will make it possible for the MVP facility to provide housing for up to two years for those selected as residents.

The approval makes way for Shelter the Homeless, The Road Home, and Fourth Street Clinic to begin remodeling the facility to fit the needs of the proposed program. They will be working to ensure needed building and safety repairs are completed along with hiring qualified staff. When completed the facility will provide private and semi-private rooms for approximately 165 residents. The target date to begin housing is this winter.

According to reports, the MVP program is a top priority of the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, and it has received funding from the State Office of Homeless Services, Salt Lake County, other municipalities, and private donors.

This program will provide safe, stable, interim housing with onsite health care and support services. All residents will be selected by Shelter the Homeless based on meeting specific needs-based criteria. Residents will include people aged 62 or older or individuals who have significant underlying health conditions or are in need of recuperative care.

Walk-ins will not be accepted, and clients will only be admitted by referral from qualified community partners, based on pre-screened vulnerability criteria. In addition to relieving occupancy pressure on the overnight homeless resource centers, this new facility will provide a secure space for people experiencing medical challenges to heal.

“The operating conditions agreed to are in the best interest of both the community and those served,” Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski said. “The MVP model is a new kind of facility to help the most vulnerable address immediate needs, such as shelter and medical care, and work toward a positive path to permanent housing.  It will save lives and help direct the homeless on a path to permanent housing.”