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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, File

Salt Lake City launches online homeless services dashboard showing nightly shelter capacity

By Graham Dudley, KSL.com | Posted - Feb. 11, 2021 at 7:53 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — A new webpage on the Salt Lake City government site aggregates resources, information and answers about homelessness in the city, including a chart listing how full each permanent shelter was the previous night.

On Feb. 10, the Geraldine E. King Women's Center; the Gail Miller Resource Center; the Men's Resource Center; and the St. Vincent de Paul Overflow Nightly Shelter were all at least at 90% capacity, according to information the city pulls from the Utah Homeless Management Information System database.

The numbers are based on nightly head counts conducted at 2 a.m., the city says.

None of the shelters is actually managed by Salt Lake City. The Road Home operates the Gail Miller, Men's and St. Vincent de Paul shelters, while the Women's Center is operated by the Volunteers of America. In a tweet Wednesday, the city said it "believes in transparency" and hopes the "information will be helpful for those interested."

"It's important for this information to be easily accessible to everyone," said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, "so that we're all informed accurately of the resources available as real-time as they can be."

Mendenhall said the city hopes the dashboard "will be a useful tool to everyone who needs to know whether beds are available, and how to get there."

"The dashboard doesn't just include the capacity numbers from the night before," she said, "but transportation contacts, how to store your stuff if you're living out on the street, and other calls for service, phone numbers that you can reach. We encourage anybody who's interested, because transparency and having a shared information source is really going to help all of us.

"I think, in the end, everybody wants people to be able to connect with shelter and resources that they need. We felt like making a dashboard, where we could bring that information together, was the best thing we could do."

The webpage also includes a detailed map of reported camps and requests for cleanup across the city.

Homelessness in Salt Lake City, particularly downtown, has more visibly reemerged over the past year amid the coronavirus pandemic despite the closure of The Road Home's large downtown shelter in late 2019 in favor of several smaller shelters outside the city center. This winter alone, the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness has had to set up temporary overflow shelters in Salt Lake and Millcreek; the system usually hovers near capacity, and there are still many on the streets every night.

Mendenhall said the new homeless resource system is working "tremendously well."

"The trouble," she said, "is that it is almost at capacity most of the time." She said more affordable housing will be key and called on county and state partners to "help to expand housing opportunities."

Mendenhall said earlier this week, after an unsheltered person died in Salt Lake, that she hopes "anyone sleeping in a tent or on our streets will instead choose a safer path and connect with our homeless services system."

Intake specialists are available at 801-990-9999 for anyone who needs overnight shelter. The Homeless Services Dashboard is online at slc.gov/hand/homeless-services-dashboard/.

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