Understanding the Mobility Impacts of Decentralizing Homeless Services in Salt Lake County, Utah

In 2016, Salt Lake County, Utah initiated the transition of the delivery of homelessness services from a centralized homeless shelter and provider (The Road Home) to a decentralized model of shelter provision and service delivery through four Homeless Resource Centers (HRCs) that are operated by different providers (The Road Home and Volunteers of America, Utah). The HRCs were designed and built outside of the downtown core to shelter 1,000 individuals facing homelessness. The HRCs provide a range of services, some of which were entirely new within the homeless services system, including in-shelter foodservice, medical care, employment assistance, and case management. The transition to a decentralized model required careful consideration of where to locate these new HRCs—one key issue for consideration in the Salt Lake City Planning Commission's (2017) HRC Zoning Amendment was “proximity” which considered how accessible the new locations were to public transportation and other needed services. Aligned with the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) theme of increased access to opportunities, the following aims are proposed: (1) To understand how the decentralization of homeless services has influenced transportation demand and mobility patterns for persons experiencing homelessness; and (2) To understand how transportation and mobility changes affect access to services and supports. Using a mixed methods research design, this interdisciplinary study proposes conducting (1) a content analysis of publicly available planning staff reports; (2) a geographic information system (GIS) spatial and statistical analysis of proximity to opportunity and basic services for users of the four new HRCs compared to the former Road Home shelter; (3) up to 20 interviews with providers and decision makers; (4) survey of 100 clients’ travel behaviors, mobility patterns, and access to necessary services; and (5) up to 20 interviews/focus groups with individuals who stay in one of the four new HRCs. This research will provide recommendations to transportation agency staff and others about policy initiatives to effectively and equitably mitigate transportation issues when homeless services are restructured and/or decentralized.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $221506
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    TREC at Portland State University

    1900 SW Fourth Ave, Suite 175
    P.O. Box 751
    Portland, Oregon  United States  97201
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Utah, Salt Lake City

    City & Metropolitan Planning
    201 South Presidents Circle
    Salt Lake City, UT  United States  84112
  • Principal Investigators:

    Canham, Sarah

    Garcia, Ivis

    Rose, Jeff

    Jones, Shannon

  • Start Date: 20200815
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220215
  • Actual Completion Date: 20220406
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01746859
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Institute for Transportation and Communities
  • Contract Numbers: NITC-1386, 69A3551747112
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Jul 28 2020 1:13PM