In its ongoing efforts to help provide shelter and services for Utah’s homeless, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided $3.3 million in donations to assist five Utah-based nonprofit organizations.
“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.”
He and Elder William K. Jackson, a General Authority Seventy, met in a Jan. 8 virtual meeting with the executive directors of the partner organizations to discuss efforts to end homelessness in Utah, according to a Jan. 13 Newsroom report.
Bishop Waddell said the donations, provided by Latter-day Saint Charities, are primarily provided by Latter-day Saints from around the world.
Those nonprofit organizations receiving funding for programs to support the homeless include The Road Home, Shelter the Homeless, Friends of the Coalition, Switchpoint and Utah Community Action.
Bishop Waddell expressed the Church’s appreciation to the partners for providing shelter. “You are living examples of what the Savior taught about reaching out and helping others.”
Added Elder Jackson: “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.”
The Church has increased its humanitarian budget the second straight year to help those worldwide 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.”
In Salt Lake City for 2021, the Church will continue its support — ongoing for more than a decade — of The Road House, which provides shelter and services for more than 1,700 homeless individuals annually.
Michelle Flynn, executive director of The Road Home, said her organization’s goal is to reduce the time anyone has in being homeless. “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.”
With its donation, Shelter the Homeless plans to help fund transportation services and provide security for a winter overflow shelter in Salt Lake County.
Laurie G. Hopkins, executive director of Shelter the Homeless, expressed appreciation for the partnership in serving the community’s most vulnerable.
“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,” she said.
The Church’s partnership with Utah Community Action will assist low-income families with rent to keep them in affordable housing. The organization assists low-income families with housing, adult education and Head Start for children.
The funds will be used to provide rental assistance to help stabilize single-parent households with children, said Jennifer Godfrey, chief executive officer of Utah Community Action. “At the present time,” she added, “we’re seeing a funding gap as we wait for federal and state dollars to be allocated to support eligible households in our community.”
The Provo-based Friends of the Coalition plans to build 72 one-bedroom units on its existing site in Utah County, with the project funded by financial support from the Church and contributions from other donors.
With the Church’s assistance, the project 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,” he said.
In Tooele and St. George, Switchpoint will use the Church contributions for a 150-unit homeless resource center in the Tooele and a child-care facility at its St. George campus.
Many of the working poor in the St. George area had hours cut or lost jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many workers employed in the tourism industry and having no place to take their children, said Carol Hollowell, executive director of the Switchpoint Community Resource Center in St. George.
“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.