Addressing Homelessness in the State of Utah
More than half a million people sleep outside, or in an emergency shelter in the United States. Several other people also spend their time in the several transitional housing programs across the U.S. While the national statistics paint a fair picture in regards to homelessness, the condition of homelessness in some states has been increasing. The current paper analyzes the state of homelessness in Utah, which for many years had chronic homelessness. The State of Utah has reduced its homelessness levels by up to 90% from 2003 to 2015. Based on the research I’ve performed this paper details the strategies and programs that the State of Utah has employed in addressing its homelessness issues.
The State of Utah has an estimated population of 2.95 million people. By 2003, Utah was rated as contending with chronic homelessness as a large section of its population identified as homeless. However, recent state reports have indicated that Utah has been able to address the chronic homelessness that it had associated with for many years. Currently, Utah is considered as a model for other States in terms of how to deal with the challenge of homelessness. Considering all parameters, it is estimated that less than 2000 people in the state of Utah identified as homeless in 2015. Given its success, attention has been directed at the programs that the state of Utah employed to address its homelessness challenges. Although some pundits on the topic still dispute that Utah’s programs were weak and ineffective for the long term, the positives that such programs have elicited remain a model that other states facing the same challenge should copy.
The state of Utah employed the Housing First program, which is significantly responsible for the success that the state has attained so far. The program involves moving the homeless people out of the street to subsidized homes, and then linking them to support facilities. In most cases, the homeless people are individuals who suffer from drug-related issues and other conditions including HIV-AIDS (McCoy). The housing first program offers multi-pronged solutions to the challenges that have stalled the quest to effective housing in Utah for many years. In addition to solving the chronic housing challenge, the housing first program also helped enhance the state’s effort to combat the health problems of drug use and sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, the housing first program has been cited to be responsible for the elimination for most of the street crimes in Utah thereby making it a safer place.
The state of Utah also undertook The Rapid Re-housing assistance as a program to address the challenge of homelessness. The Rapid Re-housing program considers the re-housing of people by providing the housing needs required by the people within the available funding. The program considered the fact that most people who lived in the streets of Utah could be more comfortable if given the basic needs of housing that were just enough. While not considering whether the involved people used any drugs or were suffering from any diseases, the program ensured that the minimum needs for housing were met thereby reducing the challenges of housing that the state faced. The result of this program was a significant reduction of the homeless population in the state of Utah, transforming its cities to be free of the negatives that come up with homelessness. Through our Rapid Rehousing Program, we were able to help 1,100 families. 87% of families served remain successfully housed and have not returned to homelessness. 13% of families received more intensive housing services and support (TheRoadHome).
In addition to the above programs, the Utah government has been able to create avenues for employment to ensure that the residents of state are employed. In most cases, homelessness increases with low levels of employment. With this fact, it is important that the government provide employment forums to ensure that the citizens of the state could afford to pay the rent and house mortgages. The falling levels of unemployment in the state of Utah promoted the efforts of eradicating the challenges of chronic homelessness that the state had suffered for many years (National Alliance to End Homelessness). The role that the federal government plays in sustaining employment levels in the state of Utah should be acknowledged when studying the homelessness trends not just in the state of Utah but also in all the other states.
The programs for eradicating homelessness in Utah have been effective in addressing one of the most complicated challenges in the United States. Given the fact that the programs are still under the implementation phase, there is skepticism regarding their long-term viability. The states government still has more work to do if its current success is to be sustained into the future. The state ought to cooperate with the federal government and other private and public stakeholders if the challenge of homelessness is to be addressed successfully. Taking its current records, Utah is indeed a model that other American states, and other countries all over the world, should study in their bid to address the challenge of homelessness that is derailing economic and social challenges.
McCoy, Terrence. “The Surprisingly Simple Way Utah Solved Chronic Homelessness And Saved Millions”. Washington Post. N.p., 2015. Web. 7 July 2016.
National Alliance to End Homelessness,. “The New Approach: The Emergence Of A Better Way To Address Homelessness”. Endhomelessness.org. N.p., 2015. Web. 7 July 2016.
“The Road Home.” The Road Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2016.