Gov. Spencer Cox asks Utahns to donate to homeless fund

The governor led by example as he made a personal donation Tuesday to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund.

(Isaac Hale | Special to The Tribune) Donated items await to be sorted as Gov. Spencer Cox talks with philanthropist Pamela Atkinson before a press conference held at The Road Home Midvale Family Center on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

Midvale • Gov. Spencer Cox made a personal donation of $10 to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund on his tax form Tuesday and encouraged all Utahns to consider giving what they can to help the homeless.

He and Pamela Atkinson also delivered a donation of children’s clothing to The Road Home Midvale Family Resource Center, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless get back into their own houses.

“We are here at this special place to ask people to do something special,” Cox said.

Utahns can contribute to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund on their tax forms or online at jobs.utah.gov/htf. Atkinson said no donation is too small to make a difference; homeless shelters and resource centers couldn’t continue to serve those in need without individual Utahns’ donations.

“When I look back over the past year, I’m in awe of what the providers have done for our homeless friends,” Atkinson said.

On any given night, around 3,000 Utahns don’t have a place to stay. Annually, around 10,000 total Utahns experience homelessness. Road Home executive director Michelle Flynn said The Road Home Midvale program provided emergency shelter to 243 families, including 461 children, and helped 107 families move from homelessness into stable housing in the latter half of 2020.

“There’s a real person, and a real family with a story behind every one of those numbers,” Cox said.

Flynn said in an interview with The Tribune that many people don’t realize how hard homeless families and individuals work to get back into stable housing.

“People who are experiencing homelessness are just like you and me,” she said. “They’re working hard every day. It is hard to be experiencing homelessness. To be having that kind of a crisis hanging over you affects everything that you do.”

Many homeless individuals have jobs but still can’t afford a place to live. Utah suffers from a lack of affordable apartments for people of all income levels to rent, Flynn said, and the pandemic only exacerbated housing issues. The Road Home has several employees dedicated to working with landlords to help low-income individuals and families find and retain housing.

Midvale Mayor Robert Hale was also in attendance at the donation event. Cox praised him for his leadership in government collaboration with nonprofits to work toward ending homelessness.

“This partnership — and it is a partnership here — is a model for the rest of the state,” Cox said. “We so often have cities and localities that are fearful or scared to have facilities like this, and we’ve proven that this can be a blessing to communities.”

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