Utah On Track To End Homelessness By 2015 With One Simple Idea

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End Homelessness: It is cheaper to give people an apartment than hospital visits, arrests and incarceration.

Give them an apartment first, ask questions later.

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.

How’d they do it? The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached.

In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000. Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment.

Other states are eager to emulate Utah’s results. Wyoming has seen its homeless population more than double in the past three years, and it only provides shelter for 26 percent of them, the lowest rate in the country. City officials in Casper, Wyoming, now plan to launch a pilot program using the methods of Utah’s Housing First program. There’s no telling how far the idea might go.

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  • Jeroniomus

    OK, fine. So if you want a free apartment, go to Utah and be homeless for a while.

    Why should anyone have to pay rent?

    Oh, by the way, when you give them an apartment, they will make it filthy and dangerous. Get ready to pay for a lot of replaced floors and rugs, pest extermination services, appliance and fixture replacement, water damage, and fires.

    Give them an apartment for free! What oculd possibly go wrong?

    • kevinzeese

      This comment shows the kind of prejudice and self-centeredness that undermines efforts to make this country one that behaves consistent with social justice.

      I wonder if Jeroniomus realizes that there are 58,000 homeless vets on any given night? Or, that 44% of people who are homeless have jobs, but because the US economy is rigged for the wealthiest they cannot afford a place to sleep? http://www.popularresistance.org/how-many-minimum-wage-hours-does-it-take-to-afford-a-two-bedroom-apartment-in-your-state/. In my state, Maryland it takes 137 minimum wage hours to afford an apartment, i.e. it is impossible to afford an apartment.

      And, as Utah shows — providing an apartment is saving them money in ER visits, arrests and incarceration. So, you help someone get on their feet, provide social services and save money — but Jeroniomus criticizes this win-win for everyone.

      Very sad when I read comments like this that are all about “me” and not about “us.”

      • Jeroniomus

        things are just going to get worse as long as we keep importing immigrants to lower wages and steal jobs and increase the cost of living. Deport the immigrants and everything will be OK again.

        • kevinzeese

          Prejudice against the homeless and also against immigrants. Very sad.

          Immigrants are not the problem. The theft by the wealthiest is the problem. You are falling for a divide and rule strategy to keep people who want a fair economy from working together.

          Immigrants came to this country because the US has destroyed their economy. This is especially true for Mexcio where NAFTA destroyed farms because of subsidized US corn. Mexicans could not compete with billions in subsidies. This forced them into cities and caused a downward spiral in wages. It became impossible to live. They did not want to leave their country, they came because it was impossible for them to survive and feed their family.

          The downward spiral in wages has been caused — in large part — rigged trade agreements like NAFTA. The US lost more than 600,000 jobs due to NAFTA. Who got rich from NAFTA? The wealthy in the US and Mexico because it was a way to rig the economy for them and against the workers.

          Do not be blinded by your prejudice. Look for the facts and you will be surprised that immigrants actually help, not hurt the country.

        • JamesKelso

          No it won’t. The so called 1%, the corporations and the bankers are to blame for the situation. Not the poor or the homeless. Wages have not kept place with inflation because corporations refuse to pay living wages. They move jobs overseas make massive profits and use the thousands of pages of tax code to avoid paying their share over here.

    • Southernfink

      What could possibly go wrong, I was homeless once or twice and it sure was not very nice, but I sure appreciated the kindness of total strangers giving me a sandwich or some small change.

      I would beat the cold and hunger by sitting at the local railway restaurant where I was and buy a pot of tea if I had some money and eat the leftover food other people left behind before the waitress could dump them in a bin, I had found two plates of beef Stroganov with rice, it was delicious and virtually untouched by two travelers who had left, the waitress soon called the police on me who’s arrival did not go unnoticed by the other people there, before the police made their move towards me a old lady beat them to it and covertly passed more than enough money to buy a decent meal, she said nothing but I looked into her eyes and understood, no need for word’s I think she had been there herself.

      I am one of the lucky ones that eventually got out and even earned real good money for a while, being homeless is no fun and I don’t wish this upon anyone else, you have not been there yourself so you do not know what it is like, so before you go making presumptions about how you speculate what type of tenant they will be, how can you validate your statement if it has not even happened yet ?

    • TomDenison

      Jeroniomus, I have read some of your comments, and you seem to be a proud White Separatist, with a proud prejudice, hatred and distrust of Jews, Muslims, Blacks, well really about anyone except Whites. I will not quibble about your beliefs, but rather ask just a couple simple questions: 1.) How do you define Whites? 2.) Do you see any good in anyone who is not White?

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  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/tvleavitt Thomas Leavitt

    Do a Google Search on “Housing First”. The people who are placed into these apartments are the long term, “chronically” homeless… as the article points out, it is cheaper to house them, that to have them endlessly cycle through hospital, jail, and other social services; many of these people have been on the streets for years, and it often takes social workers months to coax them into accepting an apartment, because these people don’t trust the system, since they’ve been treated so badly by many elements of it for so long. Billy Bob the slacker doesn’t get handed a fancy apartment free of the obligation to pay rent two days after he’s evicted from his commercially rented apartment. … and these apartments are not exactly luxury accommodations, either. Generally, there’s tiny studio apartments with nothing more than a bed and a sink, maybe a bathroom, maybe a table and chair. Think the cheapest, lowest end motel you’ve ever been in, then knock off the “luxury” elements, like a TV, lamps, end tables, carpet, curtains.

    Why put people in housing, before doing anything else? Because it works! Unlike, say, the last four decades of trying to treat people’s problems while they remained on the street. The #1, the NUMBER ONE RISK FACTOR for all bad things: physical illness, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, victimization/assault, etc. is NOT BEING HOUSED. House a person, and, miraculously, many of their worst symptoms gradually lessen in intensity, and become subject to treatment. If you spend all your time trying to figure out where your next meal will come from, where to store yourself and your stuff so that you won’t be robbed or beaten, etc., taking medications, making it to appointments, etc. become less of a priority. If you can walk around in public without all your possessions, and cleanly showered, all sorts of things (like getting a job) become at least theoretically possible.

    Housing First is a conservative, taxpayer friendly approach… imagine: a social program based on evidence that it saves taxpayers money.

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