Increasing number of Utah’s homeless seeking shelter during cold snap

SALT LAKE CITY – With the first cold snap of the season underway, keeping the homeless warm can be challenging.

Since May, the new VOA Youth Resource Center has opened its doors for teens and young adults, ages 15-22, who have nowhere to go.

Six months later, the only overnight shelter for this population is more critical than ever.

“Since the cold weather has set in, we're definitely seeing a lot more youth that are coming in,” said Sarah Strang, Director of Youth Services, VOA Youth Resource Center.

The center has 30 beds. From 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 a.m. teens can get some sleep, a warm meal, do their laundry and shower. During the day, teens can hang out and stay warm.

“It's 10 times better than being out in the snow,” said Joshua Anaya.

Anaya had been living on the streets for years.

“Being here, it's helped me go through transition living. It's helped me get a voucher for housing," Anaya said.

Isadora Zurie grew up around drugs and was in and out of group homes.

“I've spent every Christmas since I was 19 in the snow, every single one," Zurie said.

She says she never felt safe until now.

“It's so overwhelming because I've never felt so much love in one building. Ever in my life and that's saying a lot,” Zurie said.

Homeless adults are also trying to escape the cold.

This week hundreds have dropped in at the Weigand Homeless Resource Center. The shelter is open from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

“They can get showered, they can get haircuts, they can get used clothing. They can get access to computers,” said Dennis Kelsch, Director of  Homeless Services, Catholic Community Services. "It's very busy, there's a lot of people in and out of there.”

For more information about VOA Youth Resource Center, visit https://www.voaut.org/

For more information about Weigand Homeless Center, visit http://www.ccsutah.org/programs/homeless-services/weigland-homeless-resource-center