“Come in out of the cold” is the message being sent to any experiencing homelessness in Provo City. And while Utah County doesn’t have physical overnight homeless shelters, Provo City Police Department is spreading the word about its partnership with Community Action Services and Food Bank to provide emergency hotel vouchers to those seeking refuge during cold weather.
Emergency Hotel Vouchers
“The most important message is that no one need remain unsheltered in Provo. There is help, not only to escape the cold, but with additional services designed to make a lasting impact,” said Chief Troy Beebe. “If anyone is seeking shelter, we are providing shelter. No questions asked.”
Our emergency shelter program offers a warm, overnight hotel stay as a short-term solution, with access to long-term services. There are places to stay if they choose to, and most importantly, those options are safe for those most vulnerable, who do need our protection and help.
"We at Community Action Services and Food Bank are grateful for the many partners we have in providing emergency motel vouchers and other services to the homeless community. We have seen firsthand the compassion the Provo Police and Fire Departments have for the most vulnerable in our community,” said Karen McCandless, CEO of Community Action Services and Food Bank.
“The true story behind homelessness is much more complex than a headline, with each person needing individualized help. A shelter without wraparound services is a safety problem for those within, as well as the surrounding community,” said Beebe. “A shelter without rules is historically a haven for all crimes, including assaults, thefts, sexual assaults, and an increasing amount of controlled substance abuse and distribution.”
“Shelters with wraparound services, such as those offered by our community partners, are necessary for true change,” said Beebe. “The Emergency Voucher Program is outreach intended to offer safe shelter, in addition to access to those necessary services.”
Our partners are crucial in coordinating life-saving access to shelter. We’re equally grateful for the motels who are willing to partner in sheltering the unsheltered and for the State of Utah for providing funding for the motel stays. The street outreach teams with Wasatch Behavioral Health are out every day helping our homeless friends learn about resources and services available to them. The Food and Care Coalition provides meals and on-site support services to help, as well.
“As a community, our officers get to know our transient citizens personally and offer help regularly,” said Janna-Lee Holland, Provo City Police Public Information Officer. “To both chronically homeless and those newly encountered, our officers offer resources and respect the response. If the offer is refused, they often give what they can, whether a snack, meal or hot coffee.”
Not only does the emergency shelter program help during cold weather, but it also provides a safe alternative to illegal homeless encampments, often rife with crime. “Provo City has an ordinance that requires a permit to camp,” said Beebe. “The way we enforce this, however, is with compassion and not an iron fist. We offer safety, not suspicion.”
“There is a ready option for those wanting to leave unsafe encampments for safety and services,” said Beebe. “It is the best option.”
Provo City adopted Ordinance 2017-05 on March 1, 2017. Of the need for the ordinance, then Provo Mayor John Curtis said, “[It provides] one more tool in our toolbox to address the root causes and the symptoms of homelessness. The ordinance is designed to protect the safety of people who are camping or sleeping in places where they might be injured or harmed. It also protects the safety of people who are walking or driving in areas and might be impeded by people sleeping in the area.”
Provo City’s camping ordinance prohibits sleeping on publicly owned transit-related properties like streets, sidewalks, parking strips, and driveways connected to public property. It also prohibits camping on other public property, such as parks, without prior authorization when there is no overnight shelter space available. It specifically exempts activities like camping for the Freedom Festival Grand Parade if done in compliance with other city ordinances and is not intended to prohibit picnicking or resting in a park during normal park hours.
In addition to offering safe shelter, Provo City partners with community organizations for a coordinated, comprehensive homelessness outreach.
“Our community is working together to try to create lasting solutions,” said Holland. “Provo City partners with many skilled organizations trained to care and serve our homeless population in many different ways.”
“Patrol officers often alert the Community-Oriented Policing (COP) team to vulnerable individuals during weekly partnership meetings, so those at Wasatch Behavioral Health, the Food & Care Coalition, or even Utah Department of Children & Family Services can be aware of current concerns, and perhaps do some targeted outreach,” said Holland.
Wasatch Behavioral Health - Receiving Center & Recovery Outreach (ROC)
1175 E 300 N, Provo
Crisis MH services, walk-in, for up to 24 hrs
815 S Freedom Blvd, Provo
Emergency housing, hotel voucher
Food and Care Coalition
299 E 900 S, Provo
Habitat For Humanity
48 W 100 N, Provo
Low income homes & loans
Housing Services of Utah County
Helps families with loan-to-own programs and down-payments.
Provo Housing Authority
650 W 100 N, Provo
Public housing assistance
Transient Bishop Assistance
1415 N State St, Provo
Utah County Housing
240 E Center St, Provo
Subsidized housing assistance.
Vantage Point Youth Services
300 N 1185 E, Provo
Shelter & counsel for runaways.
Food /Clothing Services
Bishop's Storehouse (LDS)
940 W, Lindon
801 785 0998
Referral from Bishops for food.
Community Action Food Bank
815 S Freedom Blvd, Provo
Food & Care Coalition
299 E 900 S, Provo
Meals, showers, laundry, shelter, clinic, dental.
Clothes, glasses, dental - referral from school.
Meals On Wheels
Meal delivery to seniors’ homes.
Professional Clothing Source
987 S Geneva Rd, Orem
Business clothes for women.
United Way of Utah County
148 N 100 W, Provo
Community support services.
Women Infant & Children
Breastfeeding program, food assistance.
For a comprehensive list, please view our Community Resources page here.