Homeless Leaders: Beds Are Available At New Shelters

Jan 6, 2020, 12:36 AM | Updated: 12:38 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Homeless resource leaders were quick to respond to protests in downtown Salt Lake City, saying there are beds available at new shelters.

There has been a discrepancy between protesters and police about how many beds were open. KSL learned the number of available beds depends on who you ask.

The main Road Home shelter closed down in November, and three new shelters opened up. Officials said some people are still getting used to the new model, and that may be where a lot of the confusion lies.

Protestors claimed the homeless are forced to camp in the cold, frigid temperatures, but police say otherwise.

“They’re saying right now there are over 20 beds open. We’ve just called. There’s no beds open,” one protester said Saturday night.

Chief Mike Brown with the Salt Lake City Police Department said that wasn’t the case.

“At the time we began this operation, there were – and we confirmed this – 74 beds available in the shelters – 74 beds. That is what is truly happening. That is a narrative that these individuals do not want you to hear,” Brown said.

According to homeless resource leaders, that’s not quite true either, though the numbers change throughout the day and evening.

Preston Cochrane, executive director of Shelter the Homeless, said there were beds available Saturday night, but it was 18 across the three shelters, not 74.

He said during the last week of December, an average of 20 beds were open each night.

Cochrane also said there are an average of 65 to 70 beds available every night at 8 p.m., before they get filled up around 10 p.m.

“No one is being turned away and being told that you can’t go anywhere,” he said.

Nate McDonald with the Department of Workforce Services said Saturday’s protest is concerning.

“It’s concerning because we want to make sure the right information is out,” he said.

There is always somewhere for the homeless to stay, but McDonald said there are people who choose to camp despite availability at the shelters.

“No one wants to see people camping on the street, especially in the winter months, so I also think there is some confusion. Just because you see people outside… that means there is no capacity, which is just not necessarily the case,” he said.

There is a hotline number so people can call and check every day to see where there are open beds.

Homeless resource leaders said the information might be different though at 2 o’clock versus 8 o’clock, so it’s important to call throughout the day.

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