Volunteers pitch in to help count local homeless 02

Provo Housing Authority employee Pam Liston walks through a park in Provo while searching for homeless individuals on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. Organized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Point-in-Time count is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January. SPENSER HEAPS, Daily Herald

He was living in his pick-up near TRAX. Robert was divorced and unemployed due to a neck injury. He needed financial help with his medication and with food so that what money he had, he could save for an apartment — eventually.

Many real folks like Robert live for the future and hope that one day they won’t be in a four-door makeshift apartment on wheels, but living in a real apartment.

That is why Provo Mayor John Curtis is teaming with the United Way of Utah County on a project to get the homeless, and nearly homeless, off the streets and out of cheap motels and into a place they can call home.

“I’m excited to announce that I’ve partnered with United Way of Utah County in an effort to raise $25,000 for the Utah County Housing First Fund to help move people off the streets and into a safe environment,” Curtis said.

“Many homeless or soon-to-be-homeless can cover rent but what they can’t cover is the deposit, utilities, or the purchase of necessary items like a bed,” Curtis said. “The money we are trying to raise will help the Mountainlands Continuum to place people in a home as a first step to building self-reliance. This can save our community up to $8,000 per individual versus leaving them unhoused.”

Curtis is asking residents to join him at a donor appreciation night Friday, Aug. 28 for an exclusive after-hours party at the Provo Recreation Center for those who donate to the cause.

"We live in a very community-oriented area made of people that like to give to causes, especially ones that offer real, tangible results," said Corey Norman, deputy mayor. "Our program to help these financially vulnerable families qualify for apartments is one our citizens and residents should be excited about supporting."

The city has approximately 16 days to raise the money. So far there are 19 backers with just over $400 collected.

Those who would like to donate to the cause, should visit www.housingfirstprovo.org to claim tickets to the Mayor’s Night at the Rec Center. All proceeds of the ticket sales go to support the Utah County Housing First Fund.

“The Housing First concept is a remarkably simple concept where helping people attain housing is the first step to independence,” said Bill Hulterstrom, president and CEO of United Way of Utah County. “What's amazing about this, not only is this a compassionate approach to a problem, it also saves the community other unavoidable costs in the long run.”

A panel of informed community members and case managers will decide how the money will be distributed.

“What is insurmountable to one may be a remarkably small effort for another,” Hulterstrom said. “For example, to make our Housing First Fund work, a small group of people can make a contribution that can change an individual or a family's life. I'm thrilled to be in a community where generosity is so evident, and I hope the community will catch the vision of this fund.”

Listed below are some of the activities offered at the event from 10 p.m. to midnight:

• Exclusive after-hour party at the Rec Center

• Access to the indoor leisure pool, indoor deep water pool, indoor waterslides, indoor playground, bouldering wall, racquetball courts, and basketball courts

• Access to outdoor splash pool, wave ball pool and waterslides

• Unique activities & challenges: water volleyball, waterslide racing, NEOS competition, wheelchair basketball, free throw contest, fortune teller, dance lessons and more

• Dance party w/ DJ SkratchMo

• 3 on 3 basketball tournament sponsored by Google Fiber

• Aquatic zorb ball pool (For those w/ VIP wristbands)

• 10:30 p.m. poolside big screen movie

• Giant inflatables

• Professional photo booth

• Concessions for sale

A special VIP outdoor pool party will be held from 8 to 10 p.m. Activities include:

• Early admission into the event w/ exclusive access to the outdoor splash pool, wave ball pool, and waterslides

• Free bottomless sodas all night long

• Music & entertainment: 8 to 9 p.m. Live Band, 9 to 10:30 p.m. Top 40’s

• Giant inflatables, glow sticks & beach balls

• Catered dinner (For those with dinner ticket)

• Professional photo booth

• Free refreshments for the first 100 people

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801)344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

A 32-year veteran of covering news in Utah County, Genelle covers Provo, Orem, Faith/Religion, including the LDS Church and general assignments.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!