HB436: Senate to consider funding bill for homelessness


SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would spend $9 million to scatter smaller homeless shelters throughout the state is nearing a final vote in the Utah Senate and Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature.

The Utah Capitol opened in 1906. In 2016, the state celebrated the Capitol's Centennial.
Five different bills have been considered in the 2016 general session of legislature that would combat homelessness in Utah.

HB436 is seeking to build more, smaller shelters in neighborhoods other than Salt Lake City and Midvale, where winter overflow is currently located for the homeless community. The bill passed on a 72-0 vote in the House.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said more money would be requested in intervals over the next few years if the bill passes. He said the goal is that $20 million will eventually be raised to fund the new housing efforts.

According to Gibson, there are nearly 1,200 people seeking shelter in Salt Lake County. He believes this is causing overcrowding and is failing to help the homeless transitions to independent living.

“It’s just too big of a concentration in one place,” Gibson said.

A task force studying homelessness had recommended a similar approach of building smaller, more spread out housing options, and HB436 has agreed. However, State legislature has not held back when considering options for fighting homelessness in Utah.

HB436 is one of four surviving homeless-related bills being considered this legislative session.

In addition to housing projects, rehabilitative services, case workers, housing assistance, case managers, transitional processes and the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund, Salt Lake County Major Ben McAdams has also asked for $20 million for homeless housing projects.

Herbert said he is unsure how the budget numbers will ultimately “shake out,” or if $20 million is the right number. Herbert said, “Although I do know we need to do everything we can. A lot of work is being done, and more needs to be.”

Both the governor and legislative members said the goal of the funds should ultimately be focused on crisis prevention.

“My hope is that we can be funding solutions at the beginning stages of crisis rather than after it has occurred,” Herbert said.

State lawmakers will continue discussing possibilities for fighting homelessness in Utah with intentions of guiding people to self-reliance and stability.


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