Construction starts on Utah’s first new homeless shelter — a resource center for women in Salt Lake City

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dignitaries turns shovel of dirt during groundbreaking ceremony for the 200 bed, 60,000-square-foot Geraldine E. King WomenÕs Resource Center at 131 East 700 South in Salt Lake City Monday May 7, 2018. Shelter the Homeless is in the process of developing three new Homeless Resource Centers: two in Salt Lake City and one in South Salt Lake. Scheduled to open in July 2019, these resource centers are part of a broader change to how the current homeless service system helps individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The resource center model is designed to serve clients in a way that helps individuals move quickly out of emergency shelter, towards housing stabilization and independence. Each resource center is designed to serve a specific population, such as single women or single men.

State, county and city leaders joined in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the first of three planned resource centers in Salt Lake County to help the homeless find shelter, stability and self-sufficiency.

The Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center on 700 South, east of State Street in Salt Lake City, will serve single homeless women exclusively with a 200-bed, 60,000-square-foot facility, providing overnight shelter, work and housing assistance, and health services. It is expected to open in July 2019. That’s when The Road Home shelter in downtown Salt Lake City is supposed to close.

Whom it’s named for: Salt Lake City businessman Pat King donated $4 million in December 2016 to build the shelter in honor of his mother, who died in April 2016 at age 97.

“Most of the women that come here will have had significant adversity,” he said at Monday’s groundbreaking. “My mom had adversity. At 32 she had seven children and was alone and had no support.”

He added: “Hopefully with the help the women get, most of them will become self-sufficient. … After you become self-sufficient, hopefully you want to give back, and giving back is the ultimate satisfaction of ever receiving any assistance.”

Who developed it? Salt Lake City nonprofit Shelter the Homeless has three centers planned, two in the capital city and one in South Salt Lake. The resource center model aims to help people move quickly out of emergency shelter and toward independence. Harris Simmons, chairman and CEO of Zions Bank and the nonprofit’s board president, hosted Monday’s event.

What speakers said:

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams: “The women who find shelter here may be at a low point in their lives when they come in. But through this new shelter model and the program-rich environment that will support that model, they will find a way up and a way out of their challenges and a way out of homelessness.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski: “This opportunity will bring new hope to our entire city as we shift toward a model focused on moving individuals from homelessness to housing.” The new center “highlights the compassion of the people of the capital city, their willingness to do what is right and fulfill our moral obligation to help one another, especially when we are in need.”

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox: “We don’t have homelessness in Fairview or in Sanpete County where I live, because if you don’t have a home you come to Salt Lake City, and that’s why it’s a state issue. … We build a lot of buildings in this state. … What matters are the people that are going to be going through that front door.”

A rendering of the Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center, to be built on 700 South in Salt Lake City. Ground was broken on the project on May 7, 2018, for a planned opening in July 2019.

What’s next: Groundbreaking is imminent for another shelter on High Avenue in Salt Lake City that will have 200 beds for men and women. The third shelter in South Salt Lake will serve up to 300 men but is behind schedule amid a number of roadblocks and faces an end-of-June deadline to start construction.

“They have some concerns,” Cox said. “I think they’re all concerns that either have been or can be resolved. We’re not going to miss our deadline. One way or another we’ll be moving dirt very soon.”