The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the largest landowners in Utah and surrounding states. Among their real estate holdings are an estimated 1,210 “meetinghouses” in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties alone (per a 2014 Tribune article). Most of these are large facilities, with many classrooms, kitchens and even multiple chapels.
As the colder winter weather approaches, we are seeing overcrowding in the current homeless shelters for women and families, the soon-to-be-closed Road Home, for example.
Many church meetinghouses sit empty during the weeknights. Could some of these facilities be opened up as temporary housing for the less fortunate among us?
If each meetinghouse housed just one woman or family each night, that would help ease the overcrowding problems. If 10% of the buildings were opened up across the state to maybe two to five families or single women, that would help even more.
Beds and other required furniture could be supplied by Deseret Industries, and missionaries and local ward members could operate the sites.
I understand that this is not a permanent solution for ending homelessness or providing long-term shelters, but it should help ease the suffering of those unfortunate who find themselves in need of a warm, dry and safe place to spend the night.
Lester Aoki, Salt Lake City