More People Are Leaving Camps and Entering Shelters, Which Is A Good Thing

A recent state report showed the number of people who are homeless in Utah and use emergency shelters increased between Fiscal Year 2021 and 2022. At the same time the number who were homeless and living outside (not in shelters) dramatically decreased.

The 2022 report from the Homeless Services Division of Workforce Services noted that the homeless staying in shelters grew from 2,410 in 2021 to 2,684 in 2022. Conversely those living outside decreased from 1,155 to 872.

Realizing that the pandemic probably skewed the 2021 numbers a bit, I was still happy to see that the number of people staying in shelters is increasing and the number of people camping out is decreasing.

When people ask me why it is better for a person who is homeless to stay in a shelter versus outside, I have a lot to share. First, from a safety perspective it is much better to be in a secure, safe, and temperature-controlled environment, than out on the streets. Second, we have resources (food, showers, toilets, clothing, connections to healthcare, and more) that give people dignity and help them feel human again. Most importantly, we have daily Bible studies and nightly chapel services that encourage our homeless friends to take steps of faith and trust Jesus, who can truly provide the spiritual restoration they need. And after a relatively short time of stabilization in a shelter, we have the tools, including our New Life Recovery Program and Transitions Program, to help people achieve long-term sobriety, employment, and housing.

Additionally, seeing people camping and loitering on our streets frustrates many people. Most people want to live in a beautiful, clean city. They pay taxes to support garbage pickup and street cleaning. When taxpayers look at people who are homeless, camping on their city streets, they can feel a sense of anger, as run-down tents and garbage decrease their ability to enjoy the city they love. Instead of creating a sense of compassion, homeless camps often embitter people towards the homeless and make them less likely to help. Getting people into shelters, I believe, makes people less frustrated with our homeless community and therefore, more compassionate towards them in the long run.

So, while I am happy to see more homeless people utilizing shelters, that also means shelters like the Ogden Rescue Mission are, and will be, busier than ever. We need you support now as we enter our busy holiday season and inflation and high housing costs continue to create more and more need. Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our ministry. Please join me in praying that God will send more and more people to our doors seeking shelter and please give today if you are able!

God bless you,
Chris D. Croswhite
Executive Director

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