Utah County focused on providing shelter for those in need this winter


Individuals experiencing homelessness in Utah County will soon have a warm place to stay this winter after a new bill passed in the 2023 legislative session requires larger counties to provide shelter during the coldest winter nights.

A network of service agencies and three local churches are opening their doors this winter as part of a test run before the law goes into effect.

Mountainland Continuum of Care project coordinator Heather Hogue said the goal of the organized response is to prevent any tragedies throughout the winter months.

“We don’t want another person to die on our streets, that’s really the bottom line. Regardless of our faith, regardless of our political leaning this is something that we can all agree on,” Hogue said.

The Genesis Project have opened their doors over the last seven years as part of their movie night events throuhgout the winter where they have provided shelter for those in need.

Pastor Justin Banks said the movie nights are a way to get around the zoning laws that have prohibited homeless shelters throughout Provo.

“It’s not about the movies, it’s just giving people a place where they can be warm,” Pastor Banks said.

The Genesis Project, Provo Community Church and Provo Adventist Community Center will provide blankets and pillows as well as food and water to those in need this winter.

“When you are dealing with homeless people it really is meeting the need today because they are living in survival mode,” Pastor Banks said.

Pastor Banks said five people died in 2022 due to exposure from the cold winter weather and an additional individual died at the start of 2023.

The unified response will help reduce the number of preventable deaths this winter as each church will take turns during the week to provide a place to stay.

“It’s also opened up the door for us to make sure that people are alive on those cold winter days,” Pastor Banks said.

Hogue said the warming centers will leave a lasting impact on the community as every individual in Utah County will now have a warm place to stay each winter.

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