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Utah tackles homelessness

I’m surprised by Utah’s reaction to homelessness if the referenced story is accurate. (Online, see Social Innovation, Dec. 12: “Utah Is on Track to End Homelessness by 2015 With This One Simple Idea”, by Jenny Shank).

Shank says that Utah has reduced its rate of chronic homelessness by 78 percent over the past eight years, moving 2000 people off the street and putting the state on track to eradicate homelessness altogether by 2015.

She says the state is giving away apartments, no strings attached. Because? In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of Emergency Room visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing both an apartment and a social worker would be $11,000.

Each participant works with a case worker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment. In short, Give them an apartment first, ask questions later.

And something was said about people having more success with their search for a job once they’re stabilized versus while homeless.

It sounds too good to be true. Because if it’s accurate, then why wouldn’t we want to replicate that program?

Wiley Hollingsworth



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