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Here's what the landscape of homelessness looks like in Cache Valley

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The St. John's Episcopal Church in Logan.
The St. John's Episcopal Church houses the William A. Burnard Warming Center.

Many who live in Cache Valley consider it an idyllic place — good schools, a strong sense of community and a thriving economy. But even the most idyllic places have its fair share of people struggling to make ends meet.

Housing unaffordability in Utah has never been higher, and the state’s ongoing housing shortage will likely get worse in 2024, according to a September report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.

A September reportfrom the Cache Valley Association of Realtors says the median sales price for a home in Cache County is nearly $398,000 — a steep increase from January 2020 when the same association found the median sales price for a home was around $261,000.

In its annual report released in June, the Utah Office of Homeless Services found there was a 10% increase in people newly homeless between Oct. 1, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2022.

With a shortfall in housing units and soaring costs just to keep a roof over your head, it’s no surprise that homelessness is on the rise around Utah. And it’s not just an issue along the Wasatch Front.

“I've been acutely aware that we do have an issue with unsheltered people, with homelessness in our valley, and it's not always something that's seen or recognized," said Amy Anderson, a Logan city council member.

Anderson said becoming homeless can happen abruptly and it can happen to nearly anyone.

“For many people, it's just because they got behind on bills for some reason, and now they're facing eviction," Anderson said. "For some others, it's due to family dynamics where they're no longer able to stay with a family member.”

In addition to serving in local government, Anderson is also a board member for the William A. Burnard Warming Center in Logan. In only its second year, the Warming Center aims to provide a safe, comfortable place for those who might not have a place to go.

The center operates during the coldest months of the year in Cache Valley. For this winter, it’s set to open in early December and finish its seasonal services at the end of March. On a typical day, it opens the doors at St. John's Episcopal Church — located at 85 E. 100 North in Logan — starting at 7 p.m. and ends its daily operations at 8 a.m. the next morning.

Jayme Walters is the president of the Warming Center’s board of directors. She’s also an assistant professor in Utah State University’s Department of Social Work. She’s been with the Warming Center since its beginning, which was just over a year ago.

Walters said she and everyone else at the Warming Center learned a lot in its first year of service. She said some people in the community worry about having a type of homeless shelter in the area, but the stereotypes don’t always match up to reality.

“I think there are some people that are … a lot of the concern comes from a safety perspective, because there are a lot of myths around homelessness," Walters said in an interview. "People believe that people who are experiencing homelessness are coming from certain backgrounds, and the fact is homelessness can impact anyone. It could be your coworker, somebody you see at church, a family that you see at school — it could be anyone, and that's what we really saw in the center last season.”

Walters said most of the people the Warming Center cared for last year were individuals, though the center saw its fair share of couples and single parents. The center also frequently serves people who were recently incarcerated, or may have substance abuse issues or mental health issues.

“Everyone deserves that dignity to have a place to be safe and warm and feel cared for," she said. "So people who might be experiencing mental health issues and substance use issues — we absolutely see people that, but that's not all the people that we see. But when we do have those individuals come in, having a place to be able to feel safe, that allows them to be able to focus on if they're in recovery, or if they're experiencing a mental health episode that they can focus on getting better, and instead of having to worry about basic needs.”

To learn more about the William A. Burnard Warming Center, you can visit their website at

Reporter Jacob Scholl covers northern Utah as part of a newly-created partnership between The Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Public Radio. Scholl writes for The Tribune and appears on-air for UPR.