The Road Home rolls out security changes in wake of scathing audit citing safety and health issues

SALT LAKE CITY – The Road Home revealed its new security plan in the wake of a scathing audit showing serious safety and health concerns for the homeless people who use its shelters.

Weapons and drugs on site and children exposed to drug paraphernalia at Palmer Court were just some of the findings from the audit, which was released in May by the Office of Legislative Auditor General.

Auditors also criticized staff for inadequate security, tolerating drug abuse and failing to enforce its own rules.

“It's a tough thing. Because when you have that population that's into drugs and violence, they're going to try to push the boundaries of what's acceptable,” said Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo.

Thurston and other members of the Social Services Appropriations Committee were given an update on how the Road Home is following through with auditors recommendations.

“We've already, thanks to the auditor's insights, made a number of improvements around here that are helpful,” said Matt Minkevitch, executive director of the Road Home. “But to take it to the next level, we're going to need to look at additional security.”

They plan to install metal detectors at the downtown shelter.

“I think we need to focus on our men's entrance and make sure that we get those metal detectors in, and also have trained safety personnel that are helping us to manage that,” said Minkevitch.

Staff are also being trained on checking bags before people enter the facilities.

“We've reduced by about 60 percent the number of instances of paraphernalia and drugs getting into the facility during the month of May,” said Minkevitch.

Law enforcement is a vital piece to their security plan. DPS has conducted a safety review of the downtown shelter and Unified Police does random checks for drugs or weapons at the Midvale Family Resource Center.

“They don't wanna have their kids around people who are doing drugs. They don't want to be in an environment where their stuff is stolen or they're going to get injured,” said Thurston.

The Road Home plans to run a two-week pilot project to test this security plan and see if they need to make any changes.