At the Salt Lake County Council meeting yesterday, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson announced that effective August 1, the three homeless resources centers opened in 2019 no longer incur any construction debt. Shelter the Homeless, the non-profit organization that owns and manages the properties, will now be in a better position to support ongoing operations and maintenance on the buildings.
When the resource centers opened in 2019, there was a shortfall of over $16 million. Salt Lake County took on the debt with the agreement that Shelter the Homeless would fundraise and provide an annual payment to pay down the debt. Due to a healthy balance in the state general fund and federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding provided to Salt Lake County, it was determined that the homeless system would be best served by eliminating the debt.
The state legislature funded $5.8 million in the 2022 session, Salt Lake County provided $6.7 million and private donations and pledges provided the balance to close out the obligation. Salt Lake County’s funding was made possible due to recent federal programs.
“Shelter the Homeless is crucial to provide shelter and services for people experiencing homelessness across the county,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “Upon my first week in office in 2019 it became clear the organization had a financial shortfall to complete construction. With the support of the County Council, Salt Lake County stepped up with a bridge loan so there would not be a delay in opening the shelters. Today, with the debt from that bridge loan relieved, Shelter the Homeless can move on with their mission to provide meals, safety, and solutions.”
The debt pay off provides significant relief to Shelter the Homeless in terms of annual financial burden; reduces risk to Salt Lake County regarding this debt; and allows future fundraising to go toward important homeless services (rather than servicing the debt).
“We are so grateful that Salt Lake County, the state, Harris Simmons, and other key donors in our community stepped up to eliminate the debt we accrued to build our three homeless resource centers. From this day forward, Shelter the Homeless can focus on fundraising for ongoing operations and the needs of people experiencing homelessness. We can now double down on assuring that in future years, our resource centers remain safe, warm, and clean emergency shelters to help people resolve their immediate crisis and rapidly return to stable housing,” said Laurie Hopkins, Shelter the Homeless Executive Director.
“It’s indeed a monumental accomplishment to relieve Shelter the Homeless the burden of this debt. Now, Shelter the Homeless can focus on the important work of providing food, shelter, and safety for people experiencing homelessness,” said Chair of the Board of Shelter the Homeless Harris Simmons.