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Advocates: there are still resources for homeless women, despite full centers

Volunteers of America employees wait for clients to arrive for tours at the Geraldine E. King Women's Resource Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 26, 2019. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report says two new homeless resource centers with beds specifically for women are already full. But officials with the state say no one who needs help will be turned away.

An increase in demand

Christina Davis, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said the new homeless resource centers have 240 beds for women, but 250 women who are seeking help.

“We are definitely seeing an influx on women wanting to take advantage of these resources and engage with services, so that’s great, but we do have a challenge,” Davis said.

Davis said last year, about 200 women sought shelter at the Road Home’s downtown location. In a live interview on KSL NewsRadio, she theorized that women may feel more comfortable seeking shelter this year, knowing there is a dedicated facility just for them.

She says anyone who contacts the Utah Community Action network will be connected with a place to go, whether an overflow shelter, a motel or other site.

Preston Cochrane, Executive Director of Shelter the Homeless, echoed that sentiment.

Homeless women won’t be turned away

“Perhaps some folks were just showing up at the doorstep, expecting to have a bed available for them. We are using a more coordinated intake methodology so we can connect people to the right place,” he explained.

Women interviewed by the Deseret News said they couldn’t get beds in the new Geraldine E. King Women’s Center at 131 E. 700 S. or at the mixed-gender Gail Miller Resource Center, which is at 242 Paramount Avenue. However, both women incorrectly believed overflow shelters in the downtown area accepted men only.

Advocates for the homeless are keeping a close eye on the situation while working to complete a new men’s resource center.

Davis urged anyone in need of help finding shelter to call Utah Community Action at 801-990-9999.