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Homeless advocates unveil new hotline for people who need shelter

(Adobe Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY – Homeless advocates say there’s a new important phone number for people in Utah to remember.  It’s a 24 hour hotline that helps people find shelter if they need it.

As overnight temperatures dip below freezing, shelters are expecting to see a lot more people looking to get out of the cold.  There are occasions when the number of people seeking shelter during very cold nights goes down, but, usually, the opposite is true.  However, shelter managers never really can tell exactly how many people will need help.

“It’s not easy to forecast who is going to come in, tonight,” says The Road Home Shelter Executive Director Matt Minkevitch.

The idea for the hotline isn’t new in other parts of the country, but, this is the first year the concept is being tried in Utah.  Minkevitch says it’s operated by the group Utah Community Action, and it’s a collaborative effort between The Road Home and the two new homeless resource centers.

He says, “It’s called coordinated entry.  It’s a way to best determine where a person should go for shelter on any given night.”

Operators will be able to figure out which shelter has room and which would be the best option for the caller.

“We equally share the value to make sure to get everyone in out of the cold,” Minkevitch says.

At the end of the month, The Road Home will be working out of its new facility in South Salt Lake.  However, for now, he says the downtown facility is still up and running.

He says, “We will be operating out of the downtown shelter, and we also have additional accommodations that we’re providing at the Saint Vincent de Paul dining room.”