HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS

Salt Lake City Mayor orders homeless shelters to open more beds following five deaths

Dec 20, 2022, 2:25 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:16 am

Mayor mendenhall speaks on order to homeless shelters...

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaks during a press conference regarding unsheltered homelessness in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall signed an executive order Tuesday morning authorizing homeless shelters to open up 95 more beds. The order comes after five unsheltered people died in the past week in freezing temperatures. 

“It’s a year-round issue. We’re doing a temporary band-aid fix here,” Mendenhall said in a press conference about the order. “This is not a solution.” 

Mendenhall said state leaders need to provide more permanent solutions and funding.

Frigid cold temperatures in the last few days have forced more and more people without a home into shelters, according to State Homeless Services Coordinator Wayne Niederhauser. 

Niederhauser also said it’s going to take time to add beds to shelters because of staffing issues. 

“But we’ll have those hundred beds open probably in the next few weeks,” Niederhauser said. 

Overnight temperatures have been in the teens over the past week. 

KSL Meteorologist Matt Johnson said the coldest night of the week was Sunday at just 12 degrees. But a wind chill made it feel much colder. 

Overnight lows are forecasted to drop back down into the teens Thursday and Friday nights this week.

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Salt Lake City Mayor orders homeless shelters to open more beds following five deaths