The Utah Housing and Community Development Division says while they saw an overall increase in the number of people who experienced homelessness in 2012 their efforts to end chronic homelessness by 2014 is right on track. That number decreased by almost 10 percent last year and is down 72 percent since 2005. Housing and Community Services director Gordon Walker says while it’s a complicated problem, they’ve found success in providing permanent housing with limited restrictions.
“It’s very difficult, if you’re homeless, to deal today worrying about going to get a job if you don’t know where you’re going to sleep tonight,” he says.
He says their housing first approach doesn’t just help them better serve the homeless population it’s also much cheaper.
“The cost if you leave a chronic homeless person on the street is about 20 thousand dollars a year," he says. "However, if you house that person and you give them supportive services, the cost to the state and all the entities is only about 8 thousand dollars. So, it’s a significant savings.”
Currently there are more than 600 permanent supportive housing units designated for the chronically homeless in Utah. The report also estimates that on any single night there are about 35 hundred people without homes.