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New Homeless Shelter To Bring More To Utah's Homeless

A drawing of the new center.

The SwitchPoint Community Resource Center will host its grand opening this Friday in St. George. The center was established two months ago to meet the needs of Washington County’s chronically poor and homeless. Getting people back on their feet often requires addressing many needs, from job training to transportation. Those needs can be met quicker by combining resources into one facility, said Carol Hollowell, the center’s executive director.

“SwitchPoint’s concept is to have wrap-around services that are all under one roof,” she said.  "We have a homeless shelter in it, a food pantry that serves the general public that’s in the poverty level, and then the downstairs of our building is where 17 nonprofits who all work with our clientele come in and provide services.”

The bulk of Utah's homeless are generally families, rather than older men society tends to picture, Hollowell said.

“A lot of us grew up with that hobo walking down the train track. That’s what we think of but, for example, right now, we have 11 families that are staying with us,” she said. “They’ve got kids, one to two-months-old. A lot of young families that just are underemployed. We do have some older men but our women-to-men ratio is about fifty-fifty right now.”

Providing meals, classes, laundry services, and job training needs many hands to make it happen. In order to make good on that promise the center needs volunteers, and lots of them, Hollowell said.

“So, it’s not just, ‘let’s give them a bed and a meal.’ I mean, it helps but it’s a Band-Aid,” she said. “There’s so much more to breaking the cycle of poverty. There’s lots of opportunities for the community to step in. We expect that it will need 200 volunteers-a-month.”

Washington County, as well as Salt Lake, Utah, and Davis Counties have some of the highest estimated numbers of homeless Utahns. For more information about the new shelter, visit their website.