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A bill addressing homelessness is on the governor's desk

The Utah State Capitol Building.

House Bill 499, legislation aimed at increasing homeless shelter options during winter months and creating an emergency response plan during freezing temperatures, is on its way to Gov. Spencer Cox’s desk for approval.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason who passed similar legislation in the 2022 session.

The goal of this legislation is to address some shortfalls that were discovered this winter after a previous law passed requiring leaders to develop a homeless shelter overflow plan.

The previous law created additional bed space more quickly than ever but the system still fell short, prompting Eliason’s bill.

This bill has received feedback and support from the Utah Office of Homeless Services and State Homeless Director Wayne Niederhauser. It addresses several issues including the need for establishing a “code blue” protocol that could help prevent the deaths of unsheltered people during the coldest nights of the winter season.

Caitlin Keith is a general news reporter at UPR. She is from Lindon, Utah and is currently an undergrad student studying print journalism at USU. Caitlin loves to write and tell people’s stories. She is also a writer at the Utah Statesman. She loves to read, ski, play the cello and watch various TV shows.