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Davis Journal

Davis County Winter Overflow Taskforce – Legislative ask for funding

Feb 08, 2024 02:28PM ● By Cindi Mansell

Homelessness in America spiked last year, reaching a record high, according to an annual count that provides a snapshot of one night in January 2023. The report, released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, found more than 650,000 people were living in shelters or outside in tents or cars. That is an increase of 12% from the year before. In Utah, the 2023 Annual Data Report on Homelessness reflects a 96% increase in people experiencing chronic homelessness since 2019, but also indicates Utah is making headway in developing deeply affordable housing.

This is not a problem specific to one region or population of Utah. HB499, addressing Homeless Services Amendments, passed in the 2023 Legislative Session, and required Davis County (along with other counties of the second class) to develop a “Winter Overflow and Code Blue Response Plan” for the winters of 2024-2025 and 2025-2026. The legislation required that the Winter Overflow Plan outline how unsheltered individuals will be provided shelter from Oct. 15 to April 30 and to increase capacity during a “Code Blue” event. “Code Blue” goes into effect based on weather conditions when temperatures within the county reach 15° F or colder for two hours or longer within a 24-28-hour period. 

Other elements of that bill called for the creation of a local entity Task Force. The Davis County Winter Overflow Task Force, comprised of seven Davis County Mayors and one County Commissioner, formed in April 2023, has worked diligently to determine the best strategy for responding to the requirements of the legislation. This process has been collaborative and has involved evaluating feasible options for fulfilling the requirements of the law. A temporary shelter, open for six and a half months a year, presents consideration logistical and staffing challenges and does not address the underlying cause of homelessness. 

After evaluating options, the Task Force believes that a permanent, year-round community resource center with supportive services and permanent supportive housing is the best strategy to address homelessness in the community. The Task Force has made no recommendations as to the County’s response to the requirements of the legislation, including the site of a Winter Overflow Shelter. 

The only action taken by the Task Force was a request for funding from the State Legislature for a permanent community resource center (location to be determined). No decisions on Davis County’s response to the law will be made until the final requirements of the law and funding are known. Funding estimates for this type of facility include $30 million initially and an annual $2 million for ongoing costs and overhead associated with operation. 

“As Mayor, I will always strive to represent the best interests of Kaysville City,” Kaysville Mayor Tamara Tran. “If there is a way to do that while supporting Davis County’s request so they might help a few sisters and brothers, we are all in to find an appropriate data-driven location.”