Salt Lake City community members gathered together Wednesday to showcase the efforts of the Homeless Outreach Service Team or HOST program that began two years ago.
The HOST program’s ultimate goal is to make contact with those in need and deliver the appropriate services for each individual situation. While the program’s two year milestone was locally celebrated, Mayor Ralph Becker says national colleagues he met with recently noticed the city’s efforts on a larger scale.
"Salt Lake City was held up as the national model for how we are addressing homelessness in the country," Becker says.
The Salt Lake City Police Department has played a large role by guiding people officers meet on the street to help. Four Hundred people have benefited from the HOST program, and Chief Chris Burbank says homelessness is best addressed one person at a time.
"Well the notion, the idea that we are going to change the world is very complicated, but for those 400 individuals, I would dare say that we changed their lives, and that is what’s significant," Burbank says.
The Pamela J. Atkinson foundation helps finance the program by collecting money from red downtown HOST meters and distributing it to service partners. While the money came in slowly at first, the program reached $40,000 this year: half by donation and half price matched by Zions Bank. Atkinson says it’s important that both program contributors and recipients understand donations are maximized.
"Every penny is deposited into the account, and every penny that comes in to the host program goes out," Atkinson says.
City leaders expect more clinking coins in HOST meters in the future.