Surplus federal supplies are being used in state homeless shelters, says Bill Arseneau, Utah director of surplus property.
Arseneau told the Utah County Republican Women's luncheon that for a long time there was a confusion about how to get surplus goods to shelters and paperwork was slowing the system."I was used to seeing homeless men, but I became concerned when I started seeing women and children," he said. Arseneau's office is close to the Sixth South viaduct in Salt Lake City, where many of the homeless seek shelter.
"Eight surplus trailers were moved to the south end of the (storage) yard," Arseneau said. "There are two families per trailer with one bedroom on each side of the trailer. Each family has between two and five children."
Arseneau admits that it's not the best setup, but it is a start in helping the homeless.
Another shelter receiving surplus supplies is the St. Vincent de Paul shelter in Salt Lake City. That center received enough surplus dental supplies, including chairs and tools from Hill Air Force Base, to open a dental lab, Arseneau said.
Arseneau, who also is president of the National State Surplus Property organization has acquired several gifts and artifacts as federal surplus to be used in local hospitals, colleges, universities, museums and government buildings.
Recently, Arseneau's acquisitions have included an ornate rice bowl given to then-Vice President George Bush in 1983, by the prime minister of Japan.
"It's kind of like `Raiders of the Lost Ark,' " he said. "I crawled way inside one of the storage vaults and found this treasure." The treasure is a one-of-a-kind bronze sculpture of Vatican City given to Vice President Walter Mondale by Pope Paul VI.
Arseneau said he enjoys working in the government, "It's not a glamorous job, but it is exciting."
Gifts finding new homes locally have a 10-year restriction. They must be held for that period of time before being traded or sold. After 10 years the gift will belong to the state. Utah has more than 300 such gifts that Arseneau has brought from federal surplus areas.