The life of the Utah homeless man who died this summer

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

(Robin Pendergrast | Special for the Tribune) Homeless man Joe Howe is pictured while still alive in Salt Lake City in early summer 2022.

According to the few documents available on his life, Joe Howe was 39 years old when he died.

He was homeless and living on the streets in Salt Lake City. And he used a wheelchair and prosthetics because he had lost both his legs, which his friends believe was due to diabetes.

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

His situation has shed light on how difficult it is to be homeless with rising temperatures. You can read the full story about it here, including testimonials from others trying to stay cool while living outdoors.

From public records, it appears Howe was born on April 17, 1983 and died on June 18, 2022. Here’s a little glimpse into his life.

who was he?

Friends and activists say Howe was known for his generosity.

Robin Pendergrast, a photographer and homeless advocate in Utah, said Howe used to build small exhibits around his encampment, using brown paper bags and scribbling affirmations on them.

Pendergrast remembered that there was always one that said, “Kindness.”

Passers-by left food, beans and bread there. And Howe would then distribute the supplies to members of his community.

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

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

Where did he stay?

Howe stayed with a small homeless community on 600 East, between 400 South and 500 South.

The TRAX line passes nearby. And he was asking for change in front of Smith’s grocery store.

Where did he come from?

Howe’s friends say he spoke in a Midwestern drawl. The police report says he has family in Michigan.

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

Among his personal belongings when his body was found by police was an ID from the Sex Offender Registry.

Howe had pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor in September 2014 for obscenity involving a child after parents reported seeing him touching himself under his coat in a park. He was away from the playground, according to the police report, but due to the proximity of the children, the charges were laid.

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

How did he remember?

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

Christensen said they filled paper bags with stones and wrote messages in them such as “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, talks about the loss of his friend Joe Howe. Christensen was photographed on Monday August 29, 2022.

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