Experts and organization leaders gathered this week to talk about homeless services at the 14th annual Homelessness Summit in downtown Salt Lake. One of the main topics included trauma among homeless individuals.
Mary Beth Vogel-Ferguson is a research professor at the College of Social Work at the University of Utah.
According to Ferguson, trauma experiences affect brain development and skills required to be able to solve problems, get jobs and build relationships.
Part of the challenge, she says, is to build resiliency and to understand what leads people to homelessness. And how people use substances as a coping mechanism for trauma. She says once people have received help to address these experiences then they are ready to reenter society.
Homeless service experts say opening more resource centers is another critical step to address downtown Salt Lake’s chronic homelessness problem.
Michelle Flynn is associate executive director of programs at The Road Home. She says the focus should be keeping the time an individual or a family is experiencing homelessness as short as possible.
Families can work with the Department of Workforce Services, or DWS, on site at the resource centers to prepare them when they leave the shelter.
Flynn says they know they are effective when three goals are achieved: reducing the length of stay, increasing the exits from homelessness into permanent housing and decreasing the number of people who return to homelessness.