Utah’s New Homeless Shelters Facing Budget Shortfall

Mar 5, 2020, 7:20 PM | Updated: 8:42 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah’s brand new homeless resource centers are facing a budget shortfall.

According to the organization Shelter the Homeless, which operates the three shelters, the operating budget is negative $3.5 million for fiscal year 2020-21. That figure is based on projected costs and current revenue sources.

“This has been a historic reset to how we as a state and community help those experiencing homelessness,” said Preston Cochrane, executive director of Shelter the Homeless, in a statement to KSL.

The three resource centers include a 300-bed men shelter in South Salt Lake, the 200-bed Gail Miller Resource Center in Salt Lake City that serves men and women, and the Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center in Salt Lake City that can accommodate 200 women.

The resource centers have been full or nearly full since they opened, Cochrane said. Plus, the new shelters are more expensive than the old downtown shelter because they offer a wider range of services.

“The cost increase to operate the new system should come as no surprise to state leaders who voted in favor of the new model,” Cochrane’s statement went on to say.

One lawmaker said he wants more information and more transparency on how the shelters and their service providers spend money.

“It’s hard for us as lawmakers to justify throwing more money when we don’t really know exactly what their internal books are saying as far as what their costs are that they’re expensing,” said Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi.

Anderegg introduced a bill on Thursday that would require all providers to use the same case management system and share information about homeless individuals who are receiving services.

Service providers have been reluctant to share information, Anderegg said. Under his proposed bill, they would forfeit state and federal funding if they don’t comply.

Cochrane’s statement went on to list the services that each resource center provides, including security, case management, housing assistance, job training, transportation, life skills, meals, and medical care.

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Utah’s New Homeless Shelters Facing Budget Shortfall