“I commit to helping homeless people in our community. I will work to support service providers, religious organizations and private charities to offer housing, food, substance abuse counseling, mental health support, childcare, job training skills and social work. I support a strategic and comprehensive approach to ending homelessness.”
Above is the charter for the HOST program, signed by hundreds of community leaders. This collaborative effort between the SLC Police Department and homeless service providers, HOST aims to connect homeless individuals with social services and resources.
Chiefly recognizable from the bright red painted meters in the downtown core, the HOST program does collect donations, which are dispersed to local homeless services providers that provide help for those that need it most. But, the program encompasses much more than collecting funds. The goal of these meters, as well as the HOST program, is an educational resource to communicate the best way to give to the most vulnerable members of our community.
The HOST Charter also identified five key missions: share (financial resources, time & talents), give (to charities, instead of panhandlers), lead (in circles of influence), teach (others the best way to give) and create (dignity and meaningful change in the lives of others). These initiatives can easily be summed up with the mission to direct donations to service providers, rather than individual panhandlers, as a better way to give.
Simply put, giving money to panhandlers is an ineffective way to give, and usually hurts more than it helps. While it feels as though you’re doing the right thing in helping another who is asking for assistance, there is a better way to give. How do you know that money will be used for its intended purpose? How do you know that person is actually homeless? Or supporting a drug habits? Fact is, it is impossible to know. This is where the HOST program steps in, and ensures donations are going to the proper people, places and purposes.
Salt Lake City is one of the most generous cities in the US, perhaps even the world. Utahns genuinely want to help others; however, the most effective way to donate is directly to service providers, who in turn helps those who need it most. As an example, a small donation of five dollars barely provides a single meal for one person via panhandling. That same five dollars can feed up to four people when donated to a shelter or mission. Service providers are simply more effective than single donations, and ensure help is given in positive forms.
Homeless Service Providers
Consider donating time, money or other resources directly to these organizations, or your local church group:
Catholic Community Services
Crossroads Urban Center
Dinner at Vinny's
Fourth Street Clinic
Homeless Youth Resource Center
Homeless Outreach Program
The Road Home
Utah Food Bank
Utahns Against Hunger