New legislation addresses homelessness in Salt Lake

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Rick Bowmer
People gather near a shelter in Salt Lake City Feb. 24, 2017. Utah officials are considering five locations for a new homeless center, including three in West Valley City and two in South Salt Lake. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated more than $42 million to organizations that serve homeless people in Salt Lake City, according to a press release published April 6, 2017.

The LDS Church also agreed to sell its Deseret Industries facility at 130 East 700 South to the city so it could be used as a homeless resource center.

Several bills aimed to combat homelessness in Utah passed during this year’s legislative session.

New Homeless Shelter

In the midst of Salt Lake City’s homeless shelter transition, shutting down the Road Home shelter and choosing a new site, HB441 removed city officials’ power to refuse a shelter to be built in their city.

The county selected five possible locations for new homeless shelters in the Salt Lake area and chose one location in South Salt Lake.

This will be the third homeless shelter in Salt Lake. Christina Davis, a public information officer with the Department of Workforce Services, said the bill promotes cooperation between the county and city, which can only be a good thing.

“This is a positive step in creating the kind of homeless solution that we need,” Davis said. “We’re inviting the public to get involved in the process.”

Homeless minors don’t need permission to receive medical care

SB160 enables homeless teenagers ages 15 to 17 to get medical care without a guardian’s permission.

Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Salt Lake City, said homeless youth used to need a guardian’s permission to get medical care, with the exception of emergency care in the emergency room. Thus, homeless youth would need to wait until their guardians were located or let the condition worsen to the point of needing emergency medical care.

Stopping intergenerational poverty

HB283, sponsored by Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, broadens the Utah Workforce Code and the Utah Intergenerational Poverty Commission goals to include the prevention of children becoming homeless.

“There’s no silver bullets in solving this, but we need to do everything we can,” Spendlove said.

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