How Utah Could End Homelessness by 2015

By implementing a rational, structured policy of providing free apartments for the homeless, the state of Utah has greatly reduced its homeless population and is on pace to eradicate it completely by 2015.

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February 10, 2014, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Helping the homeless

Ed Yourdon / Flickr

The Housing Works program in Utah provides program interventions are aimed at different segments of the homeless population (i.e., prevention, treatment, or mitigation depending on the variety of homelessness). Its success has been so great that writer Emmett Rensin cites the program as  “proof that if you let data guide policy decisions, it's often progressive policies that win out.”

The program is built on the premise that the cost of health care and prison was higher for the state in dealing with an individual homeless person than the cost of providing a place to live and a social worker. So, writes Rensin "...in 2005...began handing out free apartments to the homeless. These were neither temporary accommodations, nor shelters for the night. They were not welfare-to-work, or only if you're married, or just-take-this-drug-test: just free apartments, no strings attached. Nine years later, they've reduced long-term homelessness by 74% and are on track to eradicate it completely by 2015."

Although Rensin indulges in comparisons of this policy to the more common talking points of conservative political voices, the program is transcendent in its success. Wyoming is reported to be exploring the program for its own implementation.

Monday, February 10, 2014 in PolicyMic

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