Salt Lake shelters prepare for homeless influx amid COVID protocols

Nov 13, 2020, 12:08 PM
The men's homeless resource center in South Salt Lake, as seen in October 2019. File photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Shelters in the Salt Lake Valley say they are prepared to receive more people struggling with homelessness, with a number of COVID-19 safety protocols in place, just ahead of some expected severe weather. 

Storms on the horizon?

With a strong chance of storms hitting this weekend, advocates expect shelters could fill up. 

Michelle Flynn, Executive Director of the Road Home, said thankfully, they used the spring and summer to help determine what works best.

“[It’s] just a constant reassessment of what we need to do,” she said.

Shelters ready for COVID and weather

The Road Home is still only a couple weeks into controlling operations at the Gail Miller Resource Center in downtown Salt Lake. They assumed that role in late October, taking over for the non-profit Shelter the Homeless. The location has 200 beds and services both men and women in need.

Going into this weekend, Flynn said the shelters employed a number of COVID-related safety features; she believes they can handle the potential influx of people.

“We’re putting things like plastic partitions up so that our housing teams can have conversations and work with folks to help them get into housing,” she said.

That’s in addition to an abundance of face masks offered as soon as people walk in the door. Perhaps most important, all resource centers controlled by The Road Home ensure that those staying inside receive coronavirus testing.

“We have on-site testing at each of the homeless resource centers each week,” she said. “So we’re really able to stay on top of it. If we do come up with any individuals who contracted the virus, we are able to deal with it right away.”

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