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Leaders celebrate ribbon cutting for Utah's first new homeless resource center

SALT LAKE CITY — Political leaders and homelessness advocates celebrated the ribbon cutting of the first homeless resource center on Friday — gearing up to begin housing women experiencing homelessness in coming weeks.

Friday's ceremony celebrated the near-opening of the 60,000-square-foot Geraldine E. King Women's Resource Center, named after the mother of Pat King, a businessman who donated $4 million to the construction of the women's shelter to honor his mother's lifetime of generosity.

The women's resource center at 131 E. 700 South is slated to open by the end of July or beginning of August after construction workers dealt with delays caused by this year's rainy spring weather.

The $14 million resource center is the first of three being built as part of Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City's efforts to reform the bulk of Utah's homeless services system, aiming to break up the homeless population previously served at the Road Home's downtown location into smaller shelters at scattered sites.

Years of effort to better serve the homeless population ran into turbulence when Salt Lake City was tasked with choosing sites for the new centers. Leaders promise the centers will be drastically different than the downtown shelter, which for years attracted drug dealing and crime in Salt Lake City's Rio Grande neighborhood.

After Salt Lake City chose two sites for the 200-bed women's center and the 200-bed mixed gender shelter, Salt Lake County selected a site for the 300-bed men's shelter on 1000 West in South Salt Lake, which isn't expected to be ready until September.