Utah County Woman Leads Effort To Get Water To Homeless Camps
SALT LAKE CITY — Homeless encampments have filled the streets of Salt Lake City this summer as temperatures rage.
During a week of triple digit heat, one Utah County woman was inspired by a friend to raise money for water.
“Water is life and they don’t have it. These individuals don’t have this basic need met,” said Kate Benson of Lehi. “We can do something to help.”
Benson then put out a request for donations to her neighbors.
“Within a few hours, we had raised $300,” said Benson.
With pallets and gallons of water in tow, she headed to three different encampments in Salt Lake City.
“Over and over again, I was humbled by their graciousness! They were so happy we were able to give them water,” said Benson. “Their homes are uprooted almost weekly. These homeless camps have been abated and moved around so many times. There was one in a completely open space: no shade, dusty and hot by the railroad tracks — they have no relief.”
The 2021 Pandemic Point in Time reported 3,565 Utahns experiencing homelessness, with 2,410 sheltered and 1,155 unsheltered.
With hundreds living on the streets, crews from the Health Department abate camps when they become hazardous or polluted.
Salt Lake officials have put in place public transport to overnight shelters and even a Kayak Court that brings the justice court to the banks of the Jordan River. But no organized clean water faucets or filling stations are available.
“There is nowhere for them to find clean water,” said Benson. “Businesses won’t welcome them. Public water taps near camps don’t exist.”
Benson said the need is great.
According to the 2021 Utah State Annual Report on Homelessness, heat-related homeless illnesses and deaths are on the rise.
“We can’t close our eyes and be ignorant to it because it’s there. They are people,” Benson continued. “I have found myself with mental illness, thinking that could have been me, easily. It could be our fathers, mothers, sisters or brothers. It’s time to show compassion. We are here on earth to see each other’s souls.”
Benson has created the “Water is LIFE” campaign, which raises money to supply water to the hundreds of Utahns living on the streets.
Those looking to help hydrate those in need can donate at this *GoFundMe page.
If you know someone who needs shelter, call (801) 990-9999 to be connected with an intake specialist.
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