Volunteers needed to open 100 beds ready for Salt Lake homeless
Salt Lake City – One month ago, homeless service providers in Salt Lake City made an urgent call for community help. People were sleeping on the streets because there were not enough workers to staff the shelters.
The service providers still need full-time workers, but they’ve been able to open up two critical emergency shelters. Volunteers have stepped up and others are training for jobs that will open up more beds to keep people safe and warm.
“They really made it possible for us to open a lot earlier than we feared we were going to have to open,” said Jean Hill, co-chair of the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness.
Volunteers from the state and the county recently enabled Volunteers of America to open the Weigand Homeless Resource Center with 35 beds each night.
In addition, The Road Home opened a High Needs Housing program for 150 people at the old Ramada Inn on North Temple. The facility is open for those experiencing complex medical conditions or people over 65.
“Someone in the community was willing to offer up their facility so that we could keep people warm and safe this winter, and through the COVID pandemic,” Hill said.
The Ramada Inn gives them a safe, non-congregate shelter which is critical during the pandemic.
Jean Hill, co-chair of the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness said the program also helps mitigate the spread of COVID-19 because residents are in private rooms and do not have to leave for the day.
With the omicron variant on the rise, Hill said having more non-congregate facilities is crucial. Moving those individuals also frees up beds in the homeless resource centers.
“We wanted 300 beds for this winter, and we have 500 beds available,” Hill said. “The problem now is that we still don’t have quite enough of the staff we need to make sure all of those beds can be opened up. But we are opening up as much as we can.”
They still need committed, well-trained staff to open up 100 more beds at the old hotel.
“To make sure that all shifts can be covered adequately, and that if people do get sick, they aren’t forced to come in while sick, and we can still keep people safe in that facility,” she said.
All emergency shelter beds will remain open into mid-April and can be accessed by calling the homeless hotline at 801-990-9999.
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