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‘No room for me’: New SLC homeless women’s resource center is already at capacity

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Just two months after opening, Salt Lake City’s new resource center for homeless women is seeing more clients than it can handle. 

At 11:30 on Monday morning there were nine people hanging out on the sidewalk outside of the Geraldine E. King Women’s Center at 131 East, 700 South one of them a woman named Laura Harris.

“I am a veteran’s widow. I am 51 years old. I am legally blind,” Harris told ABC4 News. “And they have no room for me.”

Kathy Bray, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Utah which operates the Women’s Center says the recent cold snap brought a lot of women into the facility.

“We have been surprised by some of the higher numbers with women,” Bray said. “Unprecedented numbers really.”

Bray says some women have been referred to an overflow facility but nobody has been turned away.

“Anyone who asks can get shelter,” Bray said. “We can accommodate 240 within the existing facilities for women and we are seeing some also that do need to go into the overflow at St. Vincent DePaul…Everyone who requests shelter at this time is getting it.” 

Harris tells me this new system is no improvement over The Road Home which housed up to 1100 people a night.

“It’s not better. It’s worse,” she said. “They think they can do whatever they want to us and if we don’t bow down to ’em we get kicked out in the street in the middle of the night…I just want some respect and a decent bed to sleep in without all the chaos and the power trips and throwing people out in the street.”

The current capacity is 200 at the Women’s Center with 40 more beds for females at the Gail Miller Resource Center on Paramount Avenue. The 300-bed men’s facility at 3380 South, 1000 West is nearing completion and is scheduled to open in mid-November. 

As for Laura, she told ABC4 she will probably end up spending Monday night there on that sidewalk.

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