Officials south of Salt Lake City say efforts to tackle the contentious political issues of drugs and overcrowding at the capital's homeless shelter appear to be pushing more people in need to Provo.
Brent Crane with the Food and Care Coalition in Provo says that he's recently seen more newcomers in need of help in Utah County.
“Late Summer, early Fall, we started to see a noticeable 25, 30, 40 percent increase in meals served over a prior time frame,” Crane said.
He also says the Provo Police Department has also noticed an increase of the homelessness population on the streets.
“As they were interacting with the homeless, they were finding that the vast majority of them were not in our system down here – they were not know to Utah County law enforcement, Crane said. “And when pressed and asked ‘Where are you coming from? How are you getting here?’ The overwhelming response was pretty consistent to what we were seeing and that was they were being sent down from Salt Lake.”
This is a problem because there is no actual homeless shelter in the area. There’s places to receive help and food but no places to stay. Crane believes the solution lies in creating more affordable housing.
“We can either have poor, destitute homeless people walking through our neighborhoods, committing petty crimes to try and survive, or we can go the dignified route by providing affordable, safe housing,” he said. “We have a choice. We can either provide housing and use that as a gateway to supportive services or we can sit here and point the finger at each other and not do anything about it and continue to get the same results.”