Samantha Lane, The Christian Science Monitor: How Utah Reduced Homelessness by More Than 90 Percent - Yahoo News
Utah’s chronically homeless population has dropped by 91 percent since 2005, and may altogether be gone by 2015. The state has achieved this by approaching homelessness in an innovative, although simple, way:
If someone is homeless, give that person a home.
While some critics may argue that this solution simplifies a complicated issue by ignoring the social, economic, and mental health components that factor into homelessness, Utah and other states are discovering that by investing in people’s most basic needs, they are better able to address the other factors that lead to homelessness. And they are doing so with less money. Lloyd Pendleton, the director of Utah’s Homeless Task Force, was not always a believer in the state’s current method of addressing homelessness, initially saying the idea was “totally unrealistic.” But now he says that prioritizing a home for those without has drastically changed the way the state can deal with other factors, including unemployment.
“It’s a philosophical shift in how we go about it,” Mr. Pendleton said, reported NBC News. “You put them in housing first … and then help them begin to deal with the issues that caused them to be homeless.”