Op-ed: Key facts about how The Road Home operates its shelters

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

FILE— People congregate near The Road Home and the St. Vincent de Paul dining hall on Rio Grande Street in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.

Over the past several months, there have been many incorrect statements in the public discourse regarding The Road Home and how it delivers services to people in need. The Road Home would like to take this opportunity to make people aware of some key facts regarding how we provide services and manage the shelter facilities.

Regardless of what brings a person in need to any shelter operated by The Road Home, our mission remains constant: to help people out of homelessness and back into the community. The agency reaches out broadly to people in need.

  • The majority of people seeking shelter are individuals and families experiencing life-altering circumstances that render them temporarily homeless. Nearly 90 percent of this population never return to shelter.
  • The Road Home also serves people who are in serious personal distress, including people in the throes of addiction. We do not allow the possession or use of illicit drugs in any shelter we operate.
  • The Road Home has a check-in process with everyone staying in the shelter to prohibit contraband, including illegal drugs and paraphernalia, from entering the shelters.
  • The downtown shelter, thanks to the help of private funding partners, has security teams on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help maintain order.
  • Anyone discovered using or having illicit drugs on shelter premises is removed immediately.
  • With respect to the downtown shelter on Rio Grande Street, The Road Home actively partners with Central Command at Salt Lake City Police Department, as well as with the officers on the front lines, to assist their efforts to serve our neighborhoods. SLCPD has always been and will continue to be welcome.
  • The Road Home has no financial incentive to increase the number of people staying at a shelter. While some shelters in other cities have a fee-for-service structure that incentivizes allowing higher numbers of people in shelter, The Road Home does not.
  • In 2007, 3,781 individuals turned to The Road Home for emergency shelter. By 2016, that number had climbed to more than 8,077 individuals.
  • The high number of people turning to the downtown shelter is a reflection of our increasing…

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