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Housing the Homeless

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A noteworthy and innovative plan is in the process of being implemented in Salt Lake County to end chronic homelessness. To do it, though, there must be widespread community support.

“Housing first” is the approach being touted. It is patterned after highly successful programs in New York and Philadelphia.

It seems the chronically homeless make up only about 12 percent of the total homeless population, yet they consume 57 percent of available resources. The idea is to get those people in a home – mostly just a small apartment, even a single room – before tackling other issues associated with their chronic homelessness. The home, of course, would be subsidized as would the services subsequently rendered. But, experts say it would actually be less expensive to do that than to continue housing them indefinitely in shelters such as the Road Home facility in Salt Lake City. Shelter space would then be freed up for those who find themselves in need of temporary, short-term assistance.

The biggest obstacle will be finding enough rooms to meet the need, along with a populace willing to welcome the chronically homeless into their neighborhoods.

In KSL’s view, the approach is sound and warrants support. We believe it has the potential to solve the problem of chronic homelessness in our community.

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