Unsheltered: Homelessness in Utah

Hinckley Institute Radio Hour – This week on the program, we air a forum on the issue of homelessness in Utah. Three new homeless shelters have been created in the Salt Lake City area to replace the capacity lost with the prospective closing of The Road Home. However, the new shelters combined have several hundred fewer beds than The Road Home, which previously suffered from overflow problems. This crunch on occupancy has raised the possibility of The Road Home remaining open through the winter months, which Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox says is still on the table.

The limitations of the new shelters are already being felt, with women being turned away from shelters only weeks after their opening. While the city’s new model focuses on diverting individuals to more permanent housing solutions, the encroachment of winter conditions and the existing 50,000 unit gap in housing need in Utah could lead to what has been called a “humanitarian crisis.”

Addressing what the city and individuals can do to help the problem, as well as why some homeless people avoid shelters in favor of sleeping on the streets or in cars is Pamela Atkinson, community advocate; Sandra Hollins, representative in the Utah Legislature and licensed clinical social worker; and Andrew Johnston, Salt Lake City Council member and Vice President of Program Operations of Volunteers of America Utah. Moderating the discussion is Rob Wesemann, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah.

This forum was recorded on March 20, 2019.