Uncounted Homeless | Letters | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Uncounted Homeless 

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Most folks picture the homeless here in Salt Lake and other cities as living in shelters, under bridges, in the mountains, etc. However, many homeless people live in motels or with friends or relatives and are not counted as homeless. The root cause is the same as for any homelessness—a lack of affordable housing.

Yes, there are agencies and organizations that help those in transitional living situations, but they generally have long waiting lists. In addition, most in this situation are not savvy about finding and using resources.

The problem is even worse when the individuals or families are LDS. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as a rule, does not help with vouchers for weekly motels. On occasion they might help with a deposit to move into an apartment, but that depends on the bishop of that ward. Often, people living in motels have very bad credit (even if they work full-time) and cannot afford to pay the $25 application fee (per person) just to be turned down due to credit issues.

Networking with church members and missionaries is also difficult, since most home teachers and missionaries stay clear of people living in motels. I have known at least two wards in Salt Lake City who have told me that active LDS members cannot get home teachers.

Bottom line is that economically disadvantaged church members cannot find the networking they need (other than the LDS employment center) so as to find higher-paying jobs and church members who may own property or be willing to sublet a basement apartment at an affordable price. Speaking of affordable prices the average weekly motel is $160-$200 a week. Many folks living in motels, making $7-$10 per hour, spend 50 percent to 90 percent of their income on their weekly rent, leaving nothing for a deposit and other related fees.

William Joseph
Salt Lake City

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