Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — A 21-year-old mom in jeans, flip-flops and a tank top stood in the shade Wednesday afternoon at Pioneer Park and explained why it's difficult to find a place to live.
"It's stressful, and out here you feel more comfortable," Tiffany Galloway said.
Galloway was one of dozens of homeless Utahns who received help and information from the Street Outreach Operation, the first of a planned weekly event at parks throughout Salt Lake City.
Service providers gathered in one location from noon to 4:30 p.m. to create a "one-stop shop" to meet people's employment, food, housing and medical needs, according to Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Michelle Ross.
Ross walked the park, scouting for people who would accept housing, employment, food assistance or help with substance abuse.
In the past, service providers would overlap their efforts, talking to the same client but not to each other, Ross said. The presence at Pioneer Park was an effort to streamline efforts of the agencies. In coming weeks, they will drive to different locations to try to reach more homeless Utahns.
Brian Lange was one of those who stopped in under the white canopy tents near the Salt Lake City Police Department's mobile command center where the service providers sat.
Lange said has been couch surfing since 1999. He began using crack to escape the pain of a traumatic childhood experience and was soon addicted. He quit in 2006, he said, and got back on his feet. But Lange said he started again after his mom's Alzheimer's diagnosis two years later.
By January 2009, he was back on the streets. Now, Lange said, he wants off the streets and away from the drugs.
"I see heroin out here. I see speed," he said, adding that the sight made him sick to his stomach.
Lange said he was waiting for Veterans Affairs to show up so he could talk with the agency about housing.
"I count on them for everything," he said.
A long way to go
Galloway was at Pioneer Park with her fiancé and two stepchildren. They were going to take the children swimming, she said, because they have begged to go.
Later Wednesday night they were going to stay with a friend in Ogden. She had a black rolling suitcase that was at least 2 feet tall and a grocery sack full of DVDs.
Galloway's 2-year-old son is living with his father, who has custody until she can get over this current "bump" of no job or housing, she said.
Galloway said she was kicked out of her most recent housing unit when she could not afford rent. For the past two months, she and her fiancé have bounced from friends' houses to motels when they had his kids and on the streets when the kids were with their mother.
Ross said she wanted to change this pattern, for the sake of Galloway's stepchildren.
"They don't deserve that. They need some stability," she told Galloway.
Ross gave Galloway information on other housing options, a relief to Galloway who had thought she no longer qualified for housing.
"I didn't know I had this many options being out here," she said.
Part of Galloway's battle for housing includes uncertainty about a possible waiting period.
The Road Home, which provides housing for homeless families, would not provide the Deseret News with an average waiting period because every case is different, shelter officials said.
- Many Mormon missionaries who return home...
- Rare snowstorm traps I-15 motorists overnight...
- About Utah: After 72 years, Keith Hottinger...
- Legal analysis supports Utah's law on getting...
- The pipes are calling: Salt Lake Methodist...
- 'Delusions' make condemned killer Ron...
- Ute Tribe sues Wasatch County over...
- Drunk driver crashes through West Valley...
- Many Mormon missionaries who return... 108
- Federal website fixes allowing more... 44
- As winter takes hold, needs increase... 29
- Legal analysis supports Utah's law on... 28
- Utahns react to death of Nelson Mandela 27
- Expelling Santa from school? Holiday... 16
- Martin MacNeill cuts self with razor in... 15
- Former Attorney General John Swallow... 13