Plans to renovate part of the homeless shelter to house single women are still up in the air, pending funding for the project, according to the shelter's executive director.
Families and single men are housed in the Salt Lake Community Shelter and Resource Center, a warehouse that was completely renovated and opened in 1988. They have separate living areas and entrances.The women's shelter is an outdated, drab building at 109 S. 800 West. Besides being in poor repair and too small to shelter the population it serves, the building is too far away for the women to be able to conveniently use the services at the new shelter: the medical clinic, employment program, dental services, etc.
Salt Lake City has agreed to provide half of the $200,000 needed to complete renovation in the south-most bay of the shelter. The area was used until recently by Wells Fargo Company.
Salt Lake County commissioners have been asked to fund the rest of the project, but contrary to other media reports, no decision has been made.
"Commissioners have sounded very supportive," acknowledged Linda Wilcox, who works for the Salt Lake County Commission. "But that funding would come from the Community Development Block Grant money, and that allocation process isn't over yet. There's no way a final decision can be made yet."
The decision should be made by May 1. If the funding is all in place, Poulin said that construction would begin immediately. The floor plans have been drawn up for the two-level, 16,000-square-foot shelter, which would include space for a garden and a private kitchen. It would take several months to complete the work, but when finished the shelter could house 40 women, rather than the 30 now being served.
"The circumstances the women are in now are very dire," said Salt Lake City Mayor Palmer DePaulis last week.
"The women are in a situation right now that is difficult," said Donna Gebler, director of the family and women's shelters. "It will be not only better for the women, but better for the staff. And the single women need to have access to all the support services."
As part of the renovation, the "School with No Name" will be moved downstairs. Right now the school, which educates homeless children up through grade 6, is located upstairs by the men's shelter. The two areas are separated by a locked door, but shelter staff said the move will allow the children and the men more room and more privacy.