Provo’s Food and Care Coalition and Friends of the Coalition received a large donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Wednesday to help with homeless housing that the nonprofits are building.
Leaders of the LDS Church announced $3.3 million in donations as part of their ongoing efforts to help provide shelter as well as other financial and in-kind support for Utah’s homeless population.
Five organizations in the state have received funding from the church to help provide shelter for the homeless in 2021. Those organizations include: The Road Home, Shelter the Homeless, Friends of the Coalition, Switchpoint and Utah Community Action.
“We reach out to all of God’s children without exception,” said Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, who helps oversee the temporal needs of the global church.
Waddell and Elder William K. Jackson of the Seventy participated in a virtual meeting with the executive directors of the partner organizations on Friday to discuss their efforts to end homelessness in Utah, according to the announcement.
As the homeless population grows in Utah County, Provo-based Friends of the Coalition plans to build 72 one-bedroom units on its existing site to provide permanent supportive housing.
Ground was broken Oct. 16 on The Candlelight Villas project, which is spearheaded by the Food and Care Coalition and supported by a handful of corporate donors. It will consist of 72 one-bedroom rental units “with the target population being homeless persons who utilize our services,” according to a summary of the project by the Provo-based homeless resource center.
When the units are built and operational, residents experiencing homelessness will be able to rent them at an income-adjusted rate, said Brent Crane, president of the Food and Care Coalition at the groundbreaking.
The project is not just about housing, Crane said at the time, describing it as an effort to provide stability for individuals who may be struggling with mental health issues or drug addiction.
“For our population who lack a roof overhead, it’s so much more than that,” Crane said. “They lose their connection to family, they lose their connection to friend and neighbor and pet, respite from the rigors of the day, that they can go clean themselves up, relax on their couch, enjoy the camaraderie of their family and friends and neighbors and maybe even a beloved pet.
“So when we talk about homelessness in Utah County, we’re talking about that they’ve lost far more than a roof overhead,” he said.
An outline of the Candlelight Villas project, which is expected to be operational in April, states that it will be built as a “Pocket Neighborhood” that reflects a “community” feel instead of a “project feel.”
“The new neighborhood will be built around important support services, including education, medical, dental and mental health services, and employment opportunities,” according to the outline.
While the Food and Care Coalition currently operates 38 on-site transitional housing units and two off-site permanent supportive housing units, Crane said a shortage of affordable one-bedroom apartments in Utah County — which is exacerbated by the high demand for student housing — makes it difficult for homeless individuals to make long-term transitions.
The project, which is expected to cost approximately $8.6 million, is funded through a number of private donations, including from doTERRA, VanCon and HomeAid Utah, as well as through CARES Act funding that was awarded to the county, Crane said.
Financial support from the church, combined with the contributions from other donors, will provide the funds needed for the project.
“This project that the church is helping us fund will be self-sustaining,” Crane said. “We will not require outside funding in the future for this particular part of our programming.”
Salt Lake City
The church will continue its support of The Road Home in Salt Lake City in 2021, which provides shelter and other services for more than 1,700 people who are homeless a year. Latter-day Saints have supported this community resource for more than a decade, according to the announcement.
“Our goal is to reduce the time that anybody has to spend homeless,” said Michelle Flynn, executive director of The Road Home. “Whether it’s out on the streets or in one of our homeless resource center facilities, we know that every single day that a child spends in our shelter impacts them negatively, and we want to help them get back into their own home as quickly as possible.”
The donation to Shelter the Homeless will help fund transportation services and provide security for a winter overflow shelter in Salt Lake County.
“This donation will aid us with winter temporary housing efforts to provide the unsheltered a warm bed and will also fund ongoing operations of the homeless resource centers, specifically to ensure the health, safety and security of the staff, guests and the surrounding community,” said Laurie G. Hopkins, executive director of Shelter the Homeless.
The church has also partnered with Utah Community Action to assist low-income families with rent to keep them in affordable housing.
Tooele and St. George
Switchpoint will use the church’s contribution to help construct a 150-unit homeless resource center in Tooele and add a child care facility to its St. George campus, according to the church announcement.
Carol Hollowell, executive director of the Switchpoint Community Resource Center in St. George, said many of the working poor in the area had their hours cut or lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no place to take their children. Many of those workers are employed in the tourism industry.
“That’s why we’re building the 24/7 child care center so that these working families can have a safe, affordable spot for their children to be,” she said.
The church’s humanitarian budget has been increased for the second year in a row to help those around the world who are suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the church announcement.