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Community Leaders Insist Homeless Will Have Shelter This Winter

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — As Salt Lake City transitions to a new model to serve the homeless, some people fear the system is already over capacity as winter approaches.

Advocates for the homeless gathered at the Road Home shelter Thursday, demanding that the shelter be kept open.

Protesters insisted the large downtown shelter needs to be kept open until April, otherwise people in the community will be turned away in the cold this winter. Community leaders working on the issue said those seeking services will not be turned away.

“We are all committed to making sure that everyone has a safe place to be during these winter months while we are continuing to push forward on the housing and institute the real solution to the homelessness which is housing,” said David Litvack, Salt Lake City Mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

The new system is focused on moving people into housing, not shelters. There are fewer shelter beds in the system, but more resources available to help people find the right path out of homelessness.

Last week, Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox called on landlords to step up and help with this community problem which includes affordable housing challenges. Twenty landlords have already stepped up with 77 available units.

“We have the stakeholders. We have the resources needed to really ensure that this new system is a success,” said Katherine Fife, Salt Lake County Director of Programs and Partnerships.

If there’s a capacity problem, Fife said other options will be used after the shelter closes and people are working on those contingency plans.

“The new system will help to ensure that those who need help are connected with the right resources,” she said.

The state is keeping track of the needs of the homeless on a day-to-day basis and plans to reassess those needs after the shelter closes.

But, right now they do not expect that they will need to keep the shelter open.

RELATED: New Homeless Resource Center May Be Overflowing When It Opens

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