Utah is Awesome When it Comes to Combating Chronic Homelessness

Utah may be in the process of countering the latest move from the current plot by the gays to ruin Western Civilization, but there is an area in which Utah excels.

And, I’m proud to say, that this area is in reducing chronic homelessness.

Yes, I’m one of those bleeding hearts that passes out money to the homeless when I see them. Whenever we go to Salt Lake City, I bring money just for that purpose. The idea that I am doing some good for someone outweighs small fears that the money will be spent on booze.

Besides, I figure it’s not my place to judge, and I can afford the “loss.”

Anyway, Utah is home to a number of people who believe that wealth = virtue, and that there is a whole list of things you have to do before you “deserve” economic help. I love that one of the reddest states in the country is succeeding at eradicating chronic homelessness by giving away housing.

It’s a pretty awesome program that started under Jon Huntsman (oh, how I wish he still held the office of governor) that has been seeing solid success. (Update: Thanks to Shad West for pointing out to me that this was an idea put forth by Olene Walker. Which makes me even happier, because Olene Walker rocks.)

Other states are now looking to the model, which is expected to almost completely eradicated chronic homelessness by 2015, and looking for ways to bank on the same success. Why? Because it actually costs less to give away housing that it does to deal with the societal and economic costs of chronic homelessness, according to WyoFile:

There’s no question that providing housing for the homeless is the right thing to do, for humanitarian reasons. But it also makes economic sense, so cities can spend less money and still help more people. In 2005, Utah did a study that found the average annual cost for emergency services and jail time for each chronically homeless person was $16,670. The cost to house them and provide case management services was only $11,000 per person.

For the most part, the program’s success comes because providing the stability of a place to live means that the chronically homeless can focus on things like cleaning up, working with case workers to get whatever help they need (mental health, job services, etc.), and getting their feet back under them.

Too many of us take it for granted that we can boostrap our way to success. But I know that much of my success is a direct outgrowth of the fact that I have never had to truly fight for survival. While you can work your way out of such circumstances, the reality is that it’s much easier to pull yourself up by your own boostraps when you have boots to begin with.

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