Cover image: The Road Home is a private nonprofit social services agency that assists homeless individuals and families, in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Here, a view from outside. Image via NPR.
A decade ago, Utah set itself an ambitious goal: end chronic homelessness.
As of 2015, the state can just about declare victory: The population of chronically homeless people has dropped by 91 percent.
In fact, Utah still has a substantial homeless problem. The overall homeless population is around 14,000.
The chronically homeless, on the other hand, are a subset of the homeless population that is often the most vulnerable. These are people who have been living on the streets for more than a year, or four times in the past three years, and who have a “disabling condition” that might include serious mental illness, an addiction or a physical disability or illness.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that represents about 20 percent of the national homeless population.
By implementing a model known as Housing First, Utah has reduced that number from nearly 2,000 people in 2005, to fewer than 200 now.
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