The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced $3.3 million in donations as part of its ongoing initiative to provide shelter as well as other financial support for Utah’s homeless population. Five non-profit organizations have received funding from the Church for their 2021 projects for the homeless.
“We reach out to all of God’s children without exception,” said Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, who helps oversee the temporal needs of the global Church. “As a Church, one of our priorities is caring for those in need, and we can’t do it on our own.”
Bishop Waddell and Elder William K. Jackson of the Seventy participated in a virtual meeting with the executive directors on January 8, 2021, to discuss their projects. The five organizations receiving funding include the Road Home, Shelter the Homeless, Friends of the Coalition, Switchpoint, and Utah Community Action.
Salt Lake City
The church reaffirms its support to the Road Home in Salt Lake City in 2021, which provides shelter for more than 1,700 people yearly.
“Our goal is to reduce the time that anybody has to spend homeless,” said Michelle Flynn, executive director of The Road Home. “Whether it’s out on the streets or in one of our homeless resource center facilities, we know that every single day that a child spends in our shelter impacts them negatively, and we want to help them get back into their own home as quickly as possible.”
The donation to Shelter the Homeless will help fund transportation services and provide security for a winter overflow shelter in Salt Lake County.
“This donation will aid us with winter temporary housing efforts to provide the unsheltered a warm bed and will also fund ongoing operations of the homeless resource centers, specifically to ensure the health, safety, and security of the staff, guests, and the surrounding community,” said Laurie G. Hopkins, executive director of Shelter the Homeless. “We are grateful for this partnership in serving the most vulnerable in our community.”
The Church has also partnered with Utah Community Action to assist low-income families with rent to keep them in affordable housing.
“These funds will be used to provide rental assistance to help stabilize our most vulnerable households — single parent households with children,” said Jennifer Godfrey, chief executive officer of Utah Community Action, which assists low-income families with housing, adult education and Head Start for children.
“At the present time, we’re seeing a funding gap as we wait for federal and state dollars to be allocated to support eligible households in our community,” Godfrey explained.
The Church has promised to financially support the Provo-based Friends of the Coalition which plans to build 72 one-bedroom units on its existing site to provide permanent supportive housing for the homeless.
“This project that the Church is helping us fund will be self-sustaining,” said Brent S. Crane, president and CEO of the Food and Care Coalition, the operational entity of Friends of the Coalition. “We will not require outside funding in the future for this particular part of our programming.”
Tooele and St. George
The Church’s contribution to Switchpoint will help contribute to constructing a 150-unit homeless resource center in Tooele and add a child care facility in St. George.
Carol Hollowell, executive director of the Switchpoint Community Resource Center in St. George, said many of the working poor in the area had their hours cut or lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no place to take their children. Many of those workers are employed in the tourism industry.
“That’s why we’re building the 24/7 child care center so that these working families can have a safe, affordable spot for their children to be,” she said.
On behalf of the Church, Bishop Waddell expressed appreciation to the partners for providing shelter to those who need it the most. “You are living examples of what the Savior taught about reaching out and helping others.”
“It just warms my heart to see so many in the Utah area who have taken an active interest [in the homeless], not just a passive concern, who have rolled up their sleeves and gotten out there,” said Elder Jackson.
The Church’s humanitarian budget has been increased for the second year in a row to help those around the world who are suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“With the whole pandemic issue and the economic crisis that it has caused, I have no doubt that has had an impact on what you do as well,” Bishop Waddell told the agency managers. “It would be great if there wasn’t a need, but I’m not going to go out on a limb and say that’s going to happen anytime soon. And so, in the meantime until that happens, we will continue to work with you and appreciate the work that you do.”
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