Park City And Summit County Lacking In Services For Homeless People
Homelessness is an issue in Park City as well as the greater area of Summit County as demonstrated last week. But without any real resources like shelters, their options for helping a homeless person are limited. Melissa Allison has more:
When Park City Police Officers came upon a 29-year-old woman sleeping in a hammock at about 9:30 p.m. last week at the McPolin Farm, it was obvious she had been there for some time.
Bags and trash were strewn everywhere, and officers gave her 24 hours to vacate.
After officers learned she lied about her identity, they gave her two citations. One for littering and the other for giving a police officer false information.
Park City Police Captain Phil Kirk said they also offered several options that might be of help.
“We did offer her multiple resources that are available such as you mentioned through the Christian Center and also to transport her to the shelter down tin the valley,” Kirk said. “But like many of the individuals we’ve contacted in these circumstances, she declined both of those, or any services. She actually, uh, this is a little unique case in that her family lives here in town.”
He said, to his knowledge, they’ve never had anyone take them up on their offer for help.
Summit County Sheriff Lieutenant Andrew Wright said Summit County is in the same situation resource wise – but they rarely deal with homeless camps since most people are passing through.
But on that rare occasion – they have pretty much the same protocol and tell them about the Christian Center as well as offering them a ride.
“We will offer them a ride down to either the valley where there are services available or we will offer them, you know a ride to whichever direction they’re going,” Wright said. “We don’t’ like to do that often because it gives the appearance that we’re just passing, you know that person onto another jurisdiction and letting them deal with the, whatever problems they may be experiencing.”
He said they try to be sensitive to the persons needs with the understanding that the county’s resources are limited.
Salt Lake City Police Sergeant Brandon Shearer said they’re used to other communities sending their homeless to Salt Lake.
“We’re impacted not just by cities in the area, but actually other states,” Sheerer said. “We have individuals who are experiencing homeless that other states actually, send them to Utah because of the programs and stuff that are set up here.”
The Christian Center of Park City Emergency Assistance & Latino Outreach Coordinator Max Ventura said they are eager to help people who are homeless but even their resources are limited.
Their main goal is to restore the persons dignity by providing a shower, clean clothes and food along with a better understanding of their needs.
But when it comes to a home – Ventura said that’s a service they’re not able to provide.
“We then give them the information for the resources in town because our housing resources are so limited,” Ventura said. “If they really, if they’re really looking to settle down in the area, if they work hard on it, they will be able to make it happen. But, because of the limited resources of housing, it takes longer than other resources.”
Kirk said if you see an illegal camp, to notify the police. He says its not an issue of hospitality, but safety.
With the dry summer, the community at large has already experienced several fires losing thousands of acres and millions of dollars in damages. Illegal camps are notorious for open fires and in spite of the recent moisture, it still just takes one spark.
I’m Melissa Allison, KPCW News.