Want to help the homeless? Don't give your dollars to street panhandlers or potential scam artists holding those stereotypical, hand-lettered cardboard signs at freeway ramps, parking lots or street corners.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank suggests a better way to make sure your charitable donations end up helping those who truly need it: the Homeless Outreach Service Team (HOST).
"When you give to HOST, the money goes to partners who work day in, day out, to provide meaningful services to our homeless population," Burbank stated Friday. "Our hope is the public will understand that money given to the HOST program does much more to end homelessness than giving to individual panhandlers."
The program is being touted through public service announcements displayed on Utah Transit Authority buses and TRAX light rail trains. The effort has received a federal grant for nearly $50,000 from the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
The advertisements, designated for eight downtown Salt Lake City buses and the inside panels of 25 TRAX train cars, urges the charitably minded to donate through specially designated red parking meters scattered throughout the downtown area.
Sgt. Michelle Ross, HOST grant coordinator, said that with one donation, givers will support such homeless services as the Fourth Street Clinic, The Road Home and Volunteers of America.
To give to HOST
Deposit coins in HOST meters, a map of which is posted at slchost.com.
Donate to the Pamela J. Atkinson Foundation/HOST account at any Zions Bank location. The Atkinson Foundation accepts and administers all donations from the public on behalf of the HOST program.
For more details about the HOST program, contact Sgt. Michelle Ross at 801-330-5065.