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Mormon church donates $10 million to help house Salt Lake City's homeless, needy

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Homeless man Thomas Piper pauses after sacrament meeting at an LDS Church service for the homeless at the Rio Grande LDS Branch, Sunday, January 29, 2017.

The LDS Church is donating $10 million toward building and developing additional housing in the Salt Lake Valley for those in need, the Utah-based faith announced Thursday.

Gérald Caussé, presiding bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the money comes from contributions Mormons made to the faith’s Humanitarian Aid Fund.

“Homelessness affects all sectors of our communities,” Caussé stated Thursday. “Around the world, we join hands and hearts with dozens of partners engaged in alleviating suffering in their respective communities, and in the process we point people towards greater self-reliance.”

Caussé oversees the LDS Church’s vast facilities and business enterprises.

This donation will specifically go to the nonprofit Shelter the Homeless organization, which has been coordinating assistance to Salt Lake City’s transient population for three decades.

The LDS Church emphasized that the latest contribution continues its partnership with numerous other civic and religious groups that “share a desire to care for the poor and those in need.”

Utah’s predominant faith recently offered Salt Lake City an option to buy the Deseret Industries store at 131 E. 700 South for use as a future homeless resource center. Government officials also plan to put such centers at 275 W. High Ave. in Salt Lake City and 3380 S. 1000 West in South Salt Lake.

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) The Deseret Industries store at 131 E. 700 South, currently owned by the LDS Church, is expected to be sold to the nonprofit Shelter the Homeless for construction of a homeless resource center. This photo was taken Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016.

“We are also exploring options for a new Deseret Industries store to address downtown patron and associate needs,” the church said Thursday in its news release.

In April, the faith’s governing First Presidency issued a statement reminding members that homelessness results from “conflict, poverty, mental illness, addiction or other sources” and that “our response to those in need defines us as individuals and communities.”

In that statement, the LDS Church pledged to continue participation “in active discussions with community partners to identify where the greatest needs exist and how the church may offer additional help.”

The First Presidency also noted that the church, feeling “keenly a responsibility to help in a Christlike way,” had already donated $42 million in cash and goods to other community and religious organizations serving the homeless in the past decade.

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