New shelter for the homeless in the works in Washington County

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ST GEORGE, Utah - St. George City has historically chosen to be less involved in the homeless situation in Washington County. Now they’re behind an effort to bring all the organizations that help that population to the table.

Thursday the council heard a recommendation from staff to allocate $250,000 in federal grant funds toward the concept of a new homeless shelter in Washington County, one that would serve existing groups and plan for a growing number of homeless individuals.

“One problem we have with this facility is just size,” said Jae Maxfield, Dixie Care and Share executive director. “We have come through our shelter, about 600 people last year. About  550 of those were unique individuals.”

Dixie Care and Share runs the only full service shelter in St. George. Already in 2014, Maxfield said they’re poised to exceed last year’s number. Marc Mortensen , St. George City assistant city manager, said the city council recognizes the hard work Maxfield and other organizations have put forth, but he said city has access to money, which can make that work easier.

The city council has already put aside $250,000 from last year’s Community Development Block Grant program.

“We were trying to figure out a way to best utilize the resources we have available to help in that situation,” Mortensen said. “For either a new homeless shelter building, or to purchase an existing building.”

Mortensen said that new building also addresses the future of homelessness in Washington County.  And Maxfield said that goal is a positive solution, not just a bigger building for that shelter, but access to services and bringing everyone together under one roof.

“If we can at least get the size that we need now, and then work more effectively than we have in the past, I think that would probably be the answer for quite a while,” he said.

The city could make a decision on where to put that new shelter within the next few weeks.