The life of the homeless Utah man who died this summer

Joe Howe appears to have been 39 years old and his friends say he was smart and generous.

(Robin Pendergrast | Special to the Tribune) Joe Howe, a man affected by homelessness, is pictured alive in Salt Lake City in early summer 2022.

Based on the few available records of his life, Joe Howe was 39 years old when he died.

He was homeless and living on the streets of Salt Lake City. And he used a wheelchair and prosthetics because he lost both of his legs, which his friends thought was diabetes.

But it was the extreme heat that summer, they believe, that led to his death.

His situation has highlighted how difficult it is to be homeless when the temperature is rising. You can read the full story about it here, including accounts from other people trying to keep cool while living outdoors.

Based on public records, Howe appears to have been born on April 17, 1983 and died on June 18, 2022. Here’s a little insight into his life.

who was he?

Friends and activists said Howe was known for his generosity.

Robin Pendergrast, a photographer and advocate for Utah’s homeless, said Howe used to build small displays around his camp, using brown paper bags and scribbling affirmations on them.

Pendergrast recalled that there was always someone who said “kindness”.

Passers-by left food inside, beans and bread. And Howe then distributed the supplies to people in his community.

“He was adamant about handing out whatever he got,” Pendergrast said.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robin Pendergrast delivers water to the homeless in Salt Lake City on Monday, August 29, 2022.

Where has he gone?

Howe lived in a small homeless community on 600 East, between 400 South and 500 South.

The TRAX line runs nearby. And he would ask for change in front of Smith’s grocery store.

where did he come from

Howe’s friends say he spoke with a drawl from the Midwest. The police report noted that he has family in Michigan.

Pendergrast said Howe also discussed living in Ohio before coming to Utah. The lawyer said he had a complicated life.

Among his belongings when his body was recovered by police was a sex offender register card.

Howe had pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor charge of indecency with a child in September 2014 after parents reported he touched himself under his coat in a park. According to the police report, he was away from the playground, but charges were brought because of the proximity of children.

Pendergrast said the criminal record made it difficult for Howe to get out of homelessness, even as he tried to better himself and comply with the law.

How was he remembered?

Chris Christensen, who has been homeless in Salt Lake City for the past seven years, said the community here has erected a small memorial to Howe.

Christensen said they filled paper bags with rocks and wrote messages like “we will miss you” and “we will always love you”.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Chris Christensen, a man living on the streets of Salt Lake City, speaks about the loss of his friend Joe Howe. Christensen was photographed on Monday 29th August 2022. The life of the homeless Utah man who died this summer

Justin Scacco

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