Everyone can do something to help, says advocate for homeless in Utah
SALT LAKE CITY — With Salt Lake City putting a stop to new homeless shelters and more people in Utah feeling the squeeze from rent and inflation, how can we help those without homes in our communities?
Pamela Atkinson joined Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson to talk about what the homeless community looks like in Utah and the most effective way to assist them now.
Boyd said about 3,500 are homeless people on a given night in Utah.
Preventing homelessness in the first place
“You have always pointed out so many are a job loss or an illness or a medical bill away from finding themselves homeless. What are the things we should should be doing on the front end, Pamela, to make sure that we’re not having people end up there in the first place?” he asked.
She said if she talks to elementary school teachers, they will tell her which children are on the verge of homelessness.
“Their temperament changes,” Atkinson said. “One should be following up on every single child who’s identified as having some concerns and problems in schools.”
She added if you investigate the child’s home situation, you might find the family has stopped paying rent because they lack the money and are then evicted.
“That is so traumatic for the children as well as for the parents,” Atkinson said.
What are we missing when we talk about homelessness?
“What’s the one thing that that you wish individual citizens all the way up to lawmakers should really be thinking about? What are we missing when it comes to our conversations here?” Boyd asked.
“We need to realize that we have to humanize the situation with our homeless friends,” she said. “We need to make sure that everybody knows that they can all do something.”
“For instance, we have the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund. Everybody in Utah can give $3 or more to that fund, and it goes directly to the providers who are on the frontlines,” she said.
You can donate to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund. All donations — even small ones — to the trust fund go directly to organizations statewide that provide vital services and assistance to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Help needed in Ukraine but in your city, too
Atkinson said she has heard many people say, “I just feel so guilty about what’s happening in Ukraine. I wish I could be there. I wish I could do something.”
“Sure, we can all send money to Ukraine, but we can also give money here that’s going to absolutely change people’s lives and help them get the assistance that they need, getting them off the streets, getting them the treatment that they need,” she said.
Atkinson recommends donating to help Utah’s homeless on your 2021 Utah state tax form or by donating online at jobs.utah.gov/htf.
Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.
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