Utah is becoming a leader in setting progressive policies that impact the homeless even though the state is considered very conservative. Utah has taken a very complex problem and broken it down to its simplest form, and the results are nothing short of amazing. The state is setting the bar high when it comes to finding a solution for homelessness. Rather than criminalizing homelessness or arresting people for sleeping on a bench, Utah decided to give homes to homeless people.
People like Brian Torchin see this approach to homelessness is as rational as it is simple. ’s so simple that Kerry Bate, the director of Salt Lake County’s housing authority, put it this way: “We really should have figured it out a long time ago, but we had some mental blocks in the way.”
Utah realized it had around 2,000 people who were “chronically homeless” ten years ago. Chronic meant they were homeless more than four times in three years, or without a home for more than a year. The chronically homeless was only about 10% of the state’s total homeless population, but they used around 50% of Utah’s homeless services. The chronic homeless rate has dropped 74% since 2005.