Salt Lake prostitutes won't be cold this winter, but so far the homeless haven't been as lucky.
And shelter operators are becoming frantic.City officials were able to find a warehouse to incarcerate prostitutes who are arrested plying their trade on the streets. But that warehouse couldn't be used for the homeless because it is too far away from services, a spokesman for Mayor Deedee Corradini said. She added that the mayor is also actively looking for shelter for the homeless.
A months-old plea for a warehouse to serve as an emergency shelter for "overflow" homeless people once established shelters are full this winter has not yielded results.
"I don't have any problem with what the sheriff's been able to come up with for his problem," said Maun Alston, director of Travelers Aid Society, which operates Utah's largest network of shelters. "It is disappointing that we've been looking since April and have not been able to come up with any-thing."
For the past few years, agencies that serve homeless people have combined resources to create an emergency shelter program so no one freezes to death on the streets. Last year, hundreds of homeless men stayed in a warehouse across the street from the Salt Lake Community Shelter and Resource Center. That warehouse, owned by Catholic Community Services, has been converted to house other programs.
About 75 men will be able to stay in the Salvation Army dining room at night, Alston said. And the Travelers Aid men's shelter has been "reconfigured" to house 30 additional men. But during the peak of winter weather, that will likely leave at least 100 people literally out in the cold.
Homeless families will once again be able to sleep in the shelter lobby once the family shelter is full. In fact, the number of homeless families has grown so much that many have been sleeping in the lobby year-round.
Single women will also double bunk this winter.
Originally, city and shelter officials were hoping for one large building that would house the entire program in one location. And they were anxious to find a place close to existing services, like food programs.
Now, Alston said, they'll take anything they can get.
"We can get by with something smaller," she said. "We can run at several different sites, as we have in the past, although that's not as good for staffing efficiency or cleaning."
Anyone who knows of vacant space in the downtown area is asked to call 359-4142.