Salt Lake City’s Project Homeless Connect provides dozens of services for people experiencing homelessness

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Crystal Yllnas is helped by volunteer LeAnne Heagren as she decides on what services to access during Salt Lake CityÕs second annual Project Homeless Connect at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. The event brought together community volunteers to provide services for individuals and families in need or experiencing homelessness. More than 800 community volunteers and 90 service providers connect those in need with more than 200 services.

Salt Lake City’s Project Homeless Connect, now in its second year, offers people experiencing homelessness in Utah access to a one-stop shop of resources that may be challenging to access otherwise.

At the event, held Friday at the Salt Palace Convention Center, 90 service providers offered a number of health resources, like vision screening, flu shots and dental assessments, as well as housing assistance, voter registration and haircuts.

“There are a lot of services spread out,” said Matthew Rojas, a spokesman with the Salt Lake City mayor’s office. “So this is one day where these individuals come and take care of a lot of the things that they need to take care of.”

With the event, the city hopes to provide immediate connection to services, create an opportunity for community-wide involvement and create an event that could be duplicated in various sizes and forms.

The event was a success last year, Rojas said, bringing out more than 500 volunteers and about 784 people experiencing homelessness. This year, he expected it would be even larger, with about 800 volunteers and more than 900 people experiencing homelessness.

Salt Lake City is in the midst of what some have called a homelessness “crisis.”

The big homeless shelter in downtown Salt Lake City known as The Road Home is scheduled to close in 2019 and will be replaced with three smaller ones. But even as crews construct those new shelters on land picked following much controversy, state and city leaders have worried they still won't have enough beds..

While the event is expected to primarily help those who are on the streets, Rojas said it will also provide services to those who are at risk of becoming homeless.

“Last year we had a lot of people who were in permanent supportive housing or affordable housing who just simply couldn’t afford some of the basic necessities that we were providing there who actually did come” he said.