With three new homeless resource centers expected to open within the next eight months, the nonprofit organization overseeing their construction announced Thursday that it has selected the service providers that will run the new facilities.
The Road Home will operate the 300-bed men’s resource center located at 3380 S. 1000 West in South Salt Lake. Volunteers of America Utah will operate the 200-bed women’s resource center at 131 E. 700 South in Salt Lake City. And Catholic Community Services of Utah will operate the 200-bed men’s and women’s resource center at 275 Paramount Ave. in Salt Lake City.
“Selecting the operators is a critical next step in a series of system-wide changes to the homeless services delivery system,” said Harris Simmons, board president of Shelter the Homeless, in a news release. “With the operators selected, we are ready to move forward working with the state, county and community partners in planning the transition.”
Shelter the Homeless says the resource centers won’t operate like traditional emergency shelters. Instead, they’ll serve specific populations and offer access to health services, a full mobile medical clinic and onsite case managers to help with services like job counseling.
“The centers are designed to serve clients in a more efficient way that supports moving out of emergency shelter and towards stability and independence,” according to documents.
The shelters need to open by July 2019 if elected officials are to meet their deadline of closing the Road Home, a 1,100-bed shelter at 210 S. Rio Grande St. that’s thought to be too large and too exposed to area criminal activity. A recent legislative audit found evidence of widespread drug use at the shelter and that more people avoided the shelter for similar reasons.
Construction is already underway on the three smaller shelters. Jonathan Hardy, housing and community development division director for the Department of Workforce Services, told The Salt Lake Tribune in September that two of the shelters are on schedule to open next summer, while the third is catching up.
He was unable to answer whether The Road Home would maintain its scheduled closure next June if the new centers are not operational.
Another concern some advocates have raised is whether there will be enough beds after The Road Home closes, leaving a 400-bed deficit when taking into account the massive growth Utah is expected to see in the next few years.
Homeless resource providers have previously answered those questions by arguing that new programs would divert people from becoming homeless to begin with and that new processes would move people back into some form of housing faster.