HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS

Progress is being made to keep unsheltered people safe this winter

Nov 10, 2023, 6:00 AM

Gov. Spencer Cox, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, Clark Ivory, with the Utah Impact Partnershi...

Gov. Spencer Cox, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, Clark Ivory, with the Utah Impact Partnership, and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall attend a press conference at the West Valley overflow shelter in West Valley on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. The new temporary homeless shelter will have space for single men and couples. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake leaders are doubling down on efforts to get warm beds for unsheltered people.

During a press conference at the West Valley overflow shelter on Thursday, Governor Spencer Cox and community leaders shared their updated plans. 

Their latest plan is to get 600 more beds into shelters across Salt Lake County. So far, their new Code Blue Response system has added 200 beds to shelters.

Cox said Salt Lake County’s response to homelessness is on track to put more unsheltered people in warm beds this winter than ever.

“The new Code Blue Response system, designed to expand shelter capacity during extreme cold, is essential for safeguarding our vulnerable unhoused population,” he said.

Mayor of Salt Lake City Erin Mendenhall said these beds hugely expand shelter capacity.

“This year’s winter response plan doubles the number of available beds from last winter,” she said.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said the enlarged capacity will also help get people out of the cold much earlier than past Salt Lake winters.

Mendenhall said this effort came from the collective work of the Utah Homelessness Council.

“This level of response and coordination is different from what we’ve seen in the past, and it would not be possible without genuine engagement, these open lines of communication that we’ve built,” she said.

As long as beds are available, Salt Lake County will make every effort to get people to shelters. Mendenhall said police are available 24-7 to drive people from dangerous public areas to shelters. 

 Cox and Mendenhall also said the temporary micro-shelter community is making good progress. The current plan is to get those operational by mid-December.

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Progress is being made to keep unsheltered people safe this winter