OGDEN -- St. Anne's Center's four family rooms are stacked three deep and it's not even winter yet, so St. Anne's, the Salvation Army and the United Way of Northern Utah are working to set up an emergency overflow shelter for women and children.
United Way has begun taking donations to handle the estimated $6,600 monthly cost. The Salvation Army is working to get approval from its headquarters. United Way Community Impact Director Leslie Herold said the goal is to have the shelter open by Christmas.
St. Anne's Center has seen a large influx of families and women with children. Herold said the four family rooms at the shelter have almost become small dormitories, with as many as three women with their children in each one.
Ogden's Salvation Army center has space because in September it had to close down its women's residency rehabilitation program. That opened up 11 rooms with five bathrooms that can be used to temporarily house St. Anne's overflow.
Lt. Peter Pemberton, at the Salvation Army, said the Army is still working out the details, such as how to use its family counselors to work in concert with St. Anne's caseworkers.
Pemberton said the Army had to shut down its residency treatment program for women after incurring $250,000 in debt over three years. That debt was dragging down the rest of the programs and couldn't be maintained.
An emergency overflow shelter will allow the Army to serve the community in another way at a far smaller cost. In his initial talks with his superiors about the change, he said, "they're certainly excited to entertain the idea and go ahead with it."
He said he'd be very surprised if a deal couldn't be reached. "And what better program than to house women and children? Oh my gosh, especially with these cold winter months that are coming."
Herold said the emergency shelter is a sign that the face of homelessness is changing. There are still many single men and women, but far more families and women with children are looking for emergency shelter. Pemberton said the Salvation Army has also seen a huge increase in the numbers of people seeking food help this year.
Herold said one group that still can't be helped by any Top of Utah shelters is single men with children.They can't be put into men's dormitories, he said, nor can they go into the women's dormitories, and with family rooms full of women with children "we have to put them into motels."
Herold said the emergency shelter will be open only six months at the most.