Third phase of 'Operation Rio Grande' to focus on work opportunities

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) The third phase of Operation Rio Grande launched Thursday, marking the final step to end the problems surrounding the homeless in downtown Salt Lake City.  

The phrase, dubbed "Dignity of Work" focuses on gainful employment and work support.      

Struggling with addiction and homelessness, Maurice Egan hit rock bottom in San Francisco.

"I had resigned that this where my life is going to be like and I had given up," Egan said.

Egan crawled out of the self-destructive cycle only after getting involved in a support-based employment opportunity. Now, the homeowner consults Operation Rio Grande organizers on the final phase. 

"You need some coaching. You need some counseling every single step of the way," Egan said.

With Phase Three, clients receive individualized employment plans for the construction and food service sectors, after getting addiction and mental health treatment. 

"Success will be measured one person at a time," Steve Starks said, president of Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment, which partnered with the program.

Employment will be coupled with mentors and life coaches for constant support from Workforce Services counselors.

"We are going to see dignity restored to individuals, we are going to see earned success. We are going to see hope that's provided to people through a combination of public and private partnerships that is unmatched," Speaker Greg Hughes said.

With nearby cities seeing an increase in homeless activity, Speaker Hughes admits Operation Rio Grande is far from over.

"Do not mistake the good news and the good progress that's made as a mission that's been accomplished or a job that's been done," Speaker Hughes said.

Before the launch of Phase Three, some employers already started hiring people struggling with homelessness. Organizers are also looking for more employers to step up. 

Thursday at 11 a.m. Lt. Governor Cox, Speaker Greg Hughes and others announce details on this final phase.

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