Transition of downtown homeless shelter to resource centers scheduled for Fall

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The Homeless Resource Center Transition Team announced a more specific timeline about when the downtown location of the Road Home shelter will close and when its three new resource centers will be up and running.

“It’s definitely groundbreaking. We’re changing the way we’re delivering services to those experiencing homelessness and we’re definitely looking at other alternative ways and solutions. There is no universal template to how we fix this. It’s complex,” said Preston Cochrane, Executive Director of Shelter the Homeless.

Homeless community advocate, Pamela Atkinson, said when they came up with their transition plan, they asked themselves the following questions: “What can we best do to help people take those steps out of homelessness and to prevent them from going back to homelessness?

Back in September, officials with Shelter the Homeless announced the sale of the downtown Road Home homeless shelter to the State of Utah for $4 million.

In November, they announced operators for Salt Lake County’s three new homeless resource centers, which is where they will transition the homeless population that seeks services from the downtown shelter.

“The resource centers are not simply shelters. They provide a new seamless system for delivering services to individuals experiencing homelessness – food, medical care, employment assistance, and case management and other partners will be accessible on-site,” according to an FAQ document provided to ABC4 News.

One week ago, they admitted the downtown shelter won’t close on time because of delays with their resource centers in South Salt Lake.

On Wednesday, they provided a more specific timeline of their transition plan:

  • The point-in-time homeless count will take place between January 24th to the 26th
  • Their mobile medical clinic will be delivered in February
  • Security contract and food services contracts will be completed in Spring/Summer
  • Service providers will hire staff in Spring/Summer
  • The Women’s and Combined Men and Women’s Resource Center will finish construction in May, transition clients from the shelter in June, and be fully operational in July
  • The Men’s Resource Center will finish construction in late Summer, transition clients from the shelter and be fully operational in the Fall
  • The downtown shelter will close in the Fall
  • Removal of Safe Space and restoration of Rio Grande Street will take place in the Fall
  • Construction of additional permanent supportive housing will take place in 2019-2020

To ensure a smooth transition from the downtown shelter to the new resource centers, the team has created task groups to focus on five aspects: client transition, public safety, funders, infrastructure and technology, and communication.

“You’ll continue to see the police presence in the Rio Grande district. We are going to be outreaching to individuals that are seeking services there and helping them connect to service providers,” said Colonel Brian Redd with the Department of Public Safety. “We want to emphasize that we are going to continue protecting our population experiencing homelessness that suffer from mental health challenges or substance abuse. We are not going to allow drug dealers back into the Rio Grande district while we are transitioning.”

Advocates say one of the major benefits of the resource center model is that essential services such as food and medical services are provided within the resource center or through their mobile health clinic.

“We are preparing for all scenarios and we feel like we will be ready as we transition in and again, the purpose of these resource centers is to help people get out of homelessness so that homelessness is brief and they’re able to get into permanent supportive housing,” said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.

The three new resource centers are located at:

  • Men’s Resource Center – 300 beds (operated by the Road Home): 3380 South 1000 West, South Salt Lake
  • Men’s and Women’s Resource Center – 200 beds (operated by Catholic Community Services): 275 Paramount Ave., Salt Lake City
  • Women’s Resource Center – 200 beds (operated by Volunteers of America): 131 East 700 South, Salt Lake City

In response to concerns about whether the number of beds is enough to meet the demand, officials ensured that their new programs aimed at mental health, addiction recovery, and housing will help reduce the number of beds needed.

If there are nights when additional capacity is needed, advocates said winter overflow is available at St. Vincent de Paul.

All three resource centers are located near public transit routes and funding has been set aside to facilitate needed transportation.

Additionally, three permanent supportive housing facilities will be opening over the next two years to support chronically homeless people:

  • First Step House, Salt Lake city – 79 units scheduled for 2020
  • Magnolia, Salt Lake City – 65 units scheduled for 2020
  • Housing Authority of Salt Lake City – 100 units near Sunrise Metro
  • (Additional vouchers for market-rate units with supportive services will also be available)

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