SALT LAKE CITY — Board members of Utah’s nonprofit Shelter the Homeless organization are weighing options for the future operation of the 200-bed Gail Miller Resource Center.
Catholic Community Services, which contracted to run the facility for the first year, has chosen not to renew its contract, opting instead to focus on daily services and the meals it has provided to Utah’s homeless for decades.
“Everyone realized it is a more expensive model, but I don’t think anyone understood the true costs associated with the type of system that it is,” said Preston Cochrane, executive director at Shelter the Homeless, which owns the three homeless resources centers recently opened to replace existing homeless shelter in Salt Lake City.
But finding the right fit, he said, has proved to be challenging, as the three facilities serve different populations of people who are homeless.
Cochrane said Catholic Community Services’ choice to not continue running the center was “a bit of a surprise,” and while no specific reasons were cited, he said cost is definitely an issue.
At least three organizations have expressed interest in running the Gail Miller Resource Center in the future, including groups already operating one of the other two, which includes the Road Home, which operates the 300-bed men’s resource center at 3380 S. 1000 West in South Salt Lake, and Volunteers of America-Utah, which runs the 200-bed women’s center at 131 E. 700 South.
The Gail Miller Resource Center, located at 242 W. Paramount Ave., serves both men and women, and like the other two, provides not only a place to sleep, but access to a variety of resources, including medical care, housing and job placement services, counseling and more.
All three centers, Cochrane said, have been close to or at capacity every night, especially when temperatures run colder. The number of beds used at the overflow shelter in Sugar House fluctuates between 80 and 120 each night. That facility will only be available until April 15.
The new system, Cochrane said, “is a thousand times better than it was, but we still have a ways to go.”
“We are still in transition, not only the service providers, but also the clients learning the new system and how things are working,” he said, adding that people “are working around the clock to make sure any issues are being addressed and make sure everyone is taken care of.”
He wants to have a new operator for the Gail Miller Resource Center in place at least 90 days prior to the expiration of Catholic Community Services’ contract.
In addition to outlining the process by which a replacement operator will be selected, Thursday’s board meeting included discussion about available funding and pending funding requests with the Utah Legislature, and an update on the group’s ongoing capital campaign, which has raised over $8 million to date.
For more information, or to make a donation — which will be matched by the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation, visit homelessutah.org.