Utah Is Ending Homelessness By Giving People Homes

From the article:

“In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail says for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but the keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.”

Utah is Ending Homelessness by Giving People Homes (Nation Of Change, Jan 18, 2014):

Earlier this month, Hawaii State representative Tom Bower (D) began walking the streets of his Waikiki district with a sledgehammer, and smashing shopping carts used by homeless people. “Disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem, Bower decided to take matters into his own hands — literally. He also took to rousing homeless people if he saw them sleeping at bus stops during the day.

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Bower’s tactics were over the top, and so unpopular that he quickly declared “Mission accomplished,” and retired his sledgehammer. But Bower’s frustration with his city’s homelessness problem is just an extreme example of the frustration that has led cities to pass measures that effective deal with the homeless by criminalizing homelessness.

  • City council members in Columbia, South Carolina, concerned that the city was becoming a “magnet for homeless people,” passed an ordinance giving the homeless the option to either relocate or get arrested. The council later rescinded the ordinance, after backlash from police officers, city workers, and advocates.
  • Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an  ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.” The city followed up with a ban on panhandling downtown, and other locations around the city.
  • Philadelphia took a somewhat different approach, with a law banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland. Religious groups objected to the ban, and announced that they would not obey it.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina took the step of asking religious groups to stop their longstanding practice of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends. Religious leaders announced that they would risk arrest rather than stop.

This trend makes Utah’s accomplishment even more noteworthy. In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail says for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but the keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.

It sounds like Utah borrowed a page from Homes Not Handcuffs, the 2009 report by The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and The National Coalition for the Homeless. Using a 2004 survey and anecdotal evidence from activists, the report concluded that permanent housing for the homeless is cheaper than criminalization. Housing is not only more human, it’s economical.

This happened in a Republican state! Republicans in Congress would probably have required the homeless to take a drug test before getting an apartment, denied apartments to homeless people with criminal records, and evicted those who failed to become self-sufficient after five years or so. But Utah’s results show that even conservative states can solve problems like homelessness with decidedly progressive solutions.

16 thoughts on “Utah Is Ending Homelessness By Giving People Homes

  1. I applaud this benevolent effort. How will they keep away tens of thousands of homeless people from other states who would like an apartment at no cost?

  2. More proof that, unless the idiots in DC interfere, a state or group of states can get hings accomplished. Step up and push the tenth amendment to the Constitution for the united Stares of America. Contact your local governing body, and challenge them to find a way around the DC stranglehold. Fire the ones that do not want states freedom.

  3. A big applaud for Utah.
    Hope all other states will follow their example.
    We need to create jobs, so that the people who have gotten the house
    will be able to go back to work.
    Stop sending jobs overseas.
    Bring back the factories who went overseas, just so the CEOs can make more
    money. Stop destroying America with those selfish acts.

  4. O….M….G!!! AWESOME….simply awesome. This story is so great in so many ways!!!!
    Utah, God is looking down at you and, at this very moment, He is smiling!!! And so am I.
    Fantastic story!!!!

  5. UTAH should be given beacon status in this regard and the rest of the states should look to them for help and leadership in getting this to happen in the rest of the states.
    Beacon status leadership is something that has been used to great effect in various aspects of civil servants applying policies throughout the councils in the UK.
    If someone knows how to do it and do it well, they should be allowed to lead others in the same direction.

  6. “Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary says 3.5 billion people in comparative poverty is ‘fantastic news’ – This is fantastic news and of course I’m going to applaud it. What can be wrong with this? he said.”………………….. After you housed the homeless get rid of the parasite dinosaurs.

  7. I work 40 hours a week and can barely cover my rent and bills. It’s not a bad plan. there are 180,000 homeless in the US and 14 million empty homes. I’m quitting my job and moving to Utah.

  8. I think this is the best thing I have heard all day! Everyone should have shelter and a warm bed to sleep in at night. The saddest thing is, many of the homeless people we see are veterans the world has forgotten. Our government needs to get their priorities straight! Stop sending jobs overseas! Stop putting chemicals and GMO’s in our food! Stop the coverups and embrace the truth. Knowledge is power.

  9. This is a very bad idea of the government giving homes for free to the poor because of two reasons “Any government powerful enough to give the people all that they want is also powerful enough to take from the people all that they have.” and because “Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.”
    The needy of your society use to be taken care of by charity. When you provide for others by taking away from your neighbor no one will be free and the poor will be weakened along with the whole of society.

  10. Kudos to Utah. I’m really surprised that the author had no understanding of conservative values. As I’m not a Republican but lean between it and Libertarian with a strong Constitutionalist bias; you would understand that that seems to be the most cost effective way of not only handling a problem for the cities, but also a way to EMPOWER the homeless population. The key is EMPOWERMENT. Not JUST a handout. With a home and someone assigned to help them, they can receive the tools necessary to better their own situation. If it’s possible. I’m not at all against providing for those who are unable to provide for themselves through no fault of their own. Although it was be BEST if they were provided for by individuals and other church and civic organizations. It’s always better for the the individual or the citizenry to take the lead role.

    What if they ever discontinue the program for some reason? Then they will be guilty in the people’s eyes of taking away those poor people’s homes. It would behoove them never to stop the program. At the same token though one maybe shouldn’t get kicked out for failing to provide for one’s self (if they are able, have all the tools and resources, etc.), however I think it would have better long term results if they set progress benchmarks to encourage their participants to achieve. The end goal SHOULD BE to in the short term get them off the street, but in the long term it should be to get them back on their feet and graduate out of the program once they can once again become self sustaining.

    I DO think however that the elicit use of illegal drugs between the tenants should not be tolerated however. But that requires providing extra resources to rehabilitate those who use drugs. A rehab program SHOULD be mandatory for participants who are addicted to drugs. I believe that is the most compassionate thing because, be it against their will or not, it is in their own best interest as well as the state’s to get clean and stay clean.

    Yeah. Us “EVIL” Republicans. lol

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