The number of homeless individuals and families in Utah grew last year, but new data shows that the number of chronically homeless individuals decreased.
According to data released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services, homelessness was up by about seven percent last year. But this year, the number of chronically homeless people dropped slightly, according to the one night count that takes place every January.
Tamera Kohler is the assistant director of Housing and Community Development with the DWS. She says while the numbers don’t actually provide answers for why people end up without a home, she has some ideas.
“It’s kind of a combination of a very tight affordable housing market and a crisis event in someone’s individual life experience,” she says.
The data shows that the number of homeless families jumped 17% between 2014 and 2015.
Kohler says while Utah’s economy has rebounded significantly since the recession, low-income families and individuals haven’t seen much of a recovery.
“We need to really be able to target affordable resources their way, including increased opportunities for employment, which creates housing stability,” Kohler says.
Utah already has one of the lowest rates of homelessness nationally. But Kohler says she’s hopeful that efforts by the state, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County will help that number drop even further.