That's right, over the past eight years, Utah has reduced homelessness by a whopping 78% doing what should be so obvious to "lawmakers" everywhere, and all while saving rather than spending more money. For the state has found that the annual costs of E.R. visits and jail time for homeless persons had been $16,670 per individual compared to the $11,000 per individual they are now spending by providing normal apartments, no strings attached. Along with the apartment, each (now formerly) homeless person in the Utah program also gets a caseworker to "help them become more self-sufficient," and they still keep the apartment if they are unable to meet the self-sufficiency goal.
The Utah program proposes ending homelessness in the state altogether by 2014 and it looks like they are on the fast track to achieve a historical nation-first success.
Can any other states out there beat Utah to the finish line?
Now that would be an Olympic gold unlike any other, wouldn't it.
Wyoming, which has seen homelessness double in the last three years, is looking to start its own Utah-styled program, and other states are reportedly starting to look into it as well. For Utah's success stands in stark contrast to efforts in states where homelessness continues to sky-rocket alongside (and including) the following alternate, time-worn, and ultimately ineffective approaches used by "lawmakers":
* giving homeless person the option of relocating or being arrested,
* smashing homeless persons' shopping carts with a sledgehammer (via Think Progress, see photo left of state representative Tom Brower (D) in his one-person campaign in Waikiki),If you're not in Hawaii - which leads the nation in homelessness statistics - you may be wondering about the representative with the sledgehammer. More here:
* banning panhandling,
* arresting people for sleeping in public,
* arresting those "storing personal items in public,"
* banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland,
* asking religious groups to stop feeding homeless people in parks
More from Richard Fowler:
A 2009 report by The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and The National Coalition for the Homeless similarly found that, rather criminalizing the homeless, it is far cheaper and more effective to simply provide homeless individuals with permanent housing.
*Photo credit, top/via The Contributor/"Utah Is Ending Homelessness By Giving People Homes."