CLEARFIELD — Housing of homeless people can make all the difference in their lives.
Beyond the expected improvement to their living conditions by being in a permanent location, out of the weather, it provides many other benefits, said Daneen Adams, spokesman for the Family Connection Center.
That agency coordinates the growing program, which is improving lives for Davis County residents.
A case in point involves a man who was found “living” at the WalMart parking lot in Layton. About 4 a.m., Gene Lopez, director of the Family Connection Food Bank, was searching for homeless people. He does outreach to find them once a month.
“One guy had no ID, and within two weeks he had housing, and a job at Home Depot. He’s doing great,” Adams said. “All he asked for was a haircut.”
Three homeless people were found within the past week at the same WalMart, proving the point there are homeless people living in the county, she said.
“We have 22 new people that we put in rapid rehousing,” Adams said. Participants are in the program from four to seven months, and have the support of case manager Melinda Budge.
Depending on the client, help is given with paying rent, and efforts made to place children in the same school they were attending, Adams said.
State sources have provided support in providing training to get the program going, she said.
Homelessness has been a big concern for County Commissioner Louenda Downs ever since she took office in 2007.
For the first time, a point-in-time count to determine the extent of homelessness in the county will take place this summer, and is set for the night of July 31. That will augment the traditional statewide January count.
She suspects many more people will be found than the few who brave the winter months, here. In the winter, most homeless people go to shelters in Salt Lake and Weber Counties, or couch-surf with friends and relatives.
There are believed to be areas where homeless congregate near Redwood Road in the far south end of the county, as well as along the Weber River in South Weber. Others do spend the night at WalMarts, particularly in Layton.
“We are mostly involved with singles, but some are married with children,” Downs said. Such entities as Davis Behavioral Health and FCC often provide assistance to the homeless, she said.
Rapid rehousing clients are placed in rental units across the county. It differs from transitional housing that can involve clients for up to two years.
A homeless subcommittee meets up to once a month, said Greg Johnson, Grant Coordinator with the Davis County Department of Planning.
“The committee is very concerned with people who are coming out of jail. We are looking to encourage nonprofits to work with homeless people as they get out,” he said.
The Davis School District’s Mary Ann Nielson coordinates homeless efforts for the district, where well over 1,000 students are often considered homeless during a typical school year.
Davis Behavioral Health also provides assistance.