I grew up in a lower middle-class family, where we didn’t have much, but I had no idea what real poverty and homelessness were until my husband and I became foster parents to our son Kyller.

We had been blessed to foster other children, but none had experienced homelessness until Kyller. I was unprepared for the horrific experiences he and his birth mom shared with us. My eyes were opened, and thus began my journey to influence positive change.

I began volunteering at The Road Home and now serve as vice president on the board of trustees. Through the years I’ve met the most remarkable human beings and seen much good come out of our community as all kinds of wonderful people come together to help others.

I’m deeply saddened to know of the complexity and size of homelessness in Utah, and how it continues to grow. Homelessness is a symptom of many social ills including the crisis-level shortage of affordable housing, recidivism, sexual abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, lack of medical insurance for serious medical emergencies, low access to mental health services or medications, unacceptance of LGBTQ youth — and more. Yet, citing reasons for homelessness is not the challenge. Creating real solutions that address such complexity and then funding these solutions is.

During their decades of operation, The Road Home has innovated and evolved to compassionately address the growing needs of our homeless friends and demand for shelter. While acknowledging the tenacity, grit and intent of our staff, we must also address the real challenges that come with serving this population of human beings in such intense times of need.

A recent state audit has revealed some security and management issues at The Road Home facilities. The Road Home board and leadership takes full ownership of this audit, and we are adopting new strategies to keep everyone safe.

We’re working on a substantial security plan that will more effectively curtail substance abuse on our properties and help our team and clients feel more secure. For the future we’ve proposed an innovative shelter system that holds our clients accountable for dangerous behaviors, while still providing shelter and services for those who need them most. While the challenges of some of our clients may seem appalling or unacceptable to the public, The Road Home will do everything it can to serve them. We are often the very last option for many, and we take this role very seriously. We exist to help our clients heal and get back on their feet in their own homes. Managing safety and security while serving our clients is something that we commit to improving.

Current discussions in the community have been very productive and have helped The Road Home and other organizations evolve the service delivery model for sheltering people who are homeless, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate to find better solutions for addressing their complex and differing needs.

We are extremely grateful to our many donors and funders, community resource partners, local and state government, and law enforcement for their support, insight and resources. Moving forward, we commit to continue to be worthy of your support, and not only raise the bar for the delivery of services in our facilities, but to continue to be advocates for ending homelessness by first finding ways to create more affordable housing, more treatment beds for people with substance abuse and behavioral health issues and a system to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. I am honored to work alongside The Road Home and thankful for the tremendous role they play in serving our state.

Becky Pickle

Becky Pickle is vice president of The Road Home Board of Trustees. She is the franchiseowner of Chick-fil-A in South Jordan, Utah.