The INN Between Announces a New Beginning

Almost halfway to our goal!At a press conference held May 3, 2018, The INN Between announced the aquisition of a larger facility which will help the nonprofit organization alleviate its long wait list and meet the critical long-term
community need for hospice beds for homeless individuals.

The INN Between began as a pilot project in a former convent in August 2015. Once the Salt Lake City winter weather hit, their beds filled, and have remained full ever since. About one-third of new residents are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have either begun hospice care or are considering it. About one-third of new residents have been diagnosed with cancer and need stable housing in order for their doctor to initiate treatment. Unfortunately, late-stage diagnosis is common in the homeless population, often resulting in a hospice path.  The remaining residents require short term respite from the streets to recover from critical illness, injury or surgery.

During the press conference, Kim Correa, Executive Director, described how the new facility, a former nursing home, enables the program to immediately increase from 16 beds to 25 beds with the long-term goal of 75 beds. “Our current home is a two-story former convent that lacks an elevator, and we have been operating full capacity for over two years with a long wait list. It breaks our hearts to have to turn a terminally ill person away. This new facility positions The INN Between to meet the community need for hospice beds for the homeless.”

Senator Luz Escamilla, who co-sponsored a legislative appropriation to help The INN Between expand, said, “We were able to see how important this funding is and how many families and individuals are being impacted…  It is The INN Between that [gives them] closure at the end of their lives…  It is one of the biggest labors of love I have seen…  an opportunity for people to die with dignity, to be respected.”        

Representative Paul Ray, the other co-sponsor, said, “The first time I toured [The INN Between] I had just lost my mother… to cancer, and going through that process and seeing how scared she was… with all the family there, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have to do it by yourself on the streets. And that really touched me. And when I saw what Kim was doing and what the staff was doing here, it became very important to me… We had both parties at the State and the County involved… [and] we all came together for a cause.” Ray went on to say, “Some of these are Veterans who sacrificed for our country.  These are people who are just really in need of help, and it would be awful if we weren’t able to provide that.”

Salt Lake County Mayor McAdams said of the County, “we look not just at the symptoms of homelessness, but the causes… and how we might make homelessness rare and brief…. The INN Between brings an important component to our homeless services that really hasn't been addressed previously." McAdams went on to say, "I had the opportunity… to watch the [KUED Channel 7] documentary [Homeless at the End]… What a moving film that was... One of the most touching things to me about that documentary was seeing these individuals who have nothing, and [at The INN Between], for the final stages of their life, they have something. They have someone who loves them, someone who cares for them, and they can enter in the final stages of their life with dignity and love, having… in death what they never had in life.”

Program Director Matilda Lindgren said, “I have one of the best jobs at The INN Between, of meeting all our residents when they come in… and sometimes I get to spend their final moments with them, and sometimes I get to watch them walk out the door into new lives. But most of all I’m just meeting a lot of new friends.”

And in a poignant personal account, resident Linda Lemieux said, “I’ve been homeless about a year and a half this time. I’m currently dying of liver disease. I’d lived on sidewalks, underneath jungles gyms in parks, just about anywhere… I was being taken to the hospital at least to or three times a month, and they would drain my stomach… Last time, they took 18.2 liters… That’s nine 2-liter bottles of pop. That a lot of pressure on your organs and explains the pain… A man picked me up from the hospital and brought me to The INN Between… Matilda was one of the first people in a very long time to look me dead in the eyes. For some reason, people don’t look the homeless in the eye. I don’t know if it scares them or reminds them of what could be.  But she… made me feel welcome and made feel needed… The INN Between brought me in, fed me, clothed me, they gave me a shower which was really nice.”

Lemieux went on to say, “A lady that works there, her name is Kathleen… reached out and touched me on the shoulder and she didn’t pull away...  She was really comfortable with me, and I loved that because nobody is comfortable with the homeless. These people treated me with so much respect, so much dignity, and that’s something I really thought I’d never feel again… If these guys wouldn’t have taken me in, I have no doubts that I’d already be dead.”

According to Correa, “The total cost of our New Beginning is $3.5 million – half the cost of the new construction project. This cost includes all furniture and fixtures, from the hospice beds down to the cloth napkins in the dining hall. It also includes a fund to make upgrades that are required for state and city licensing and a maintenance fund to cover future repairs.

“Our goal is to raise the $3.5 million dollars within one year, to pay off the loans and ensure that future funding is dedicated to sustaining program operations, and we are excited to report that we are already 44% of the way to our New Beginning fundraising goal, and we encourage the community to help us cross the finish line. Your support ensures that the most vulnerable members of our community have a safe home and access to hospice care at the end of life.”

Please click here to support our New Beginning Campaign.

The INN Between provides its residents with all their basic needs – shelter, food, clothing, toiletries, and linens – but also provides intensive case management to help them connect with mainstream benefits, healthcare and community resources. One of their main tasks is to reestablish broken family relationships. According to Lindgren, “At first, our new residents don’t like sharing their family information, but I just keep plugging away, asking questions and encouraging a phone call or email. One of the most poignant reunions I’ve experienced was a phone call from John to his 92-year old mother who lived in upstate New York. John, a former Wall Street banker, hadn’t spoken to his mother in 25 years. She was grateful to know his whereabouts and that he was being well cared for at the end of his life. She got to say her goodbyes and ‘I love you’ over the phone, and I was able to convey the same to her for John, who was so close to the end that he was unable to speak. John died later that day.”

In 2017, The INN Between’s 16-bed hospice facility operated at full capacity and helped 16 individuals experience the end of life with dignity; however, 44 homeless individuals died on Salt Lake area streets. With their New Beginning, The INN Between will be able to help more homeless individuals experience the end of life in a safe, protective and supportive environment.