Park City suspected homeless cases mount, including a bathing vagrant
The Park City Police Department in recent weeks has received a series of reports of sightings of people suspected to be homeless, an issue that is not widespread in the community but one that can be especially difficult in a community with few resources for people living outdoors.
The Police Department said some of the recent reports involved the same people, meaning the homelessness numbers may be lower than what is reflected in police reports since each case is logged individually.
The most recent cases reported to the Police Department, involving suspected homeless camps and sightings of people who may not have full-time living arrangements, include:
• on Sunday, March 31 at 12:04 p.m., a suspected homeless camp was reportedly discovered off Holiday Ranch Loop Road. Public police logs did not provide details.
• on Saturday, March 30 at 6:23 p.m., a worker cleaning the men’s bathroom at the Old Town transit center discovered a person described as a “vagrant bathing in there.”
• on Friday, March 29 at 6:51 a.m., a man was found asleep in a restroom on Swede Alley. Public police logs did not identify the building, but the Old Town transit center is on Swede Alley and is a location where homeless people are sometimes reported.
• on Wednesday, March 27 at 11:10 a.m., a man was seen sleeping behind an ATM on Park Avenue.
The Police Department last week also received a report of people in a vehicle parked on a street in the Iron Horse district. The person who contacted the police, at 9:20 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, indicated the people might be squatting, according to public police logs. The police that day, at 6:26 p.m., also received a complaint people in a truck and a trailer on Silver King Drive might be camping. Camping or using a vehicle to squat are sometimes linked to homelessness.
Phil Kirk, a police captain, said the transit center most recently has been the primary location of homeless reports. The transit center is centrally located just off Main Street with bathrooms as well as a large indoor lobby.
“They tend to keep coming back to the transit center, sleeping there,” Kirk said.
In one of the cases, the officers who responded cited one person on a count of trespassing and warned one other, Kirk said. In another case, he said, officers found two people sleeping on the lower level of the transit center. Trespassing counts are under consideration, he said.
“We have a few that we see around town on a regular basis,” Kirk said.
Police officers when they encounter a homeless person provide information about the services available through the Christian Center of Park City, which, notably, runs a food pantry. The police also offer to transport a homeless person to a shelter in the Salt Lake Valley. Kirk said the homeless people typically decline a ride to the shelter.
The Christian Center of Park City, located on Deer Valley Drive, provides clothing to the homeless in addition to food. The organization also would purchase a Greyhound bus ticket if a homeless person wanted to move closer to relatives. Rob Harter, the executive director, said the Christian Center of Park City recently hired a case worker who will be assigned to work with homeless people or those who are on the verge of homelessness.
The Christian Center of Park City anticipates the homeless numbers could climb in the area as the summer arrives since living outdoors in the community is especially difficult during the cold, snowy winters.
“The weather’s getting better. They feel like they can make it,” Harter said.
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The Park City Police Department last week received reports of drivers struggling in a late-season snowstorm. The complaints were logged in various locations inside the city. The accidents did not appear to be serious.