Target: Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah
Goal: Praise initiative that cut chronic homelessness by 75 percent in only a decade
A program to provide homes to the homeless is seeing great success in Utah. The program aims to address the most obvious issue about homelessness— the lack of a home. The initiative is called Housing First, and it operates under the belief that setting people up in stable homes is top priority, and once this is addressed, issues associated with homelessness such as violence, hunger, and poor health will decrease as well.
The program places the chronically homeless, or those who have been on the streets for more than a year, into a home immediately. With a permanent address, they can begin to look for work right away and can also apply for other government benefits. The program contrasts greatly with the more popular model of gradual readiness, which places people in public shelters, then transitional housing, then finally into their own homes.
The initiative has proven to be not only effective, but a much more cost-efficient way of dealing with the problem. Providing housing to one homeless person costs around $8,000 per year, whereas leaving them on the streets to rely on shelters, hospitals, and other programs can cost the state $20,000 per year. Utah now has under 300 chronically homeless people, down from an estimated 2,000 one decade ago.
The initiative’s immense success has cities across America trying out the model, though Utah has become the only state to implement the program state-wide. Sign the petition below to applaud Utah’s innovative solution to chronic homelessness.
Dear Mr. Gary Herbert,
Utah’s Housing First initiative has successfully reduced homelessness by over three quarters in the past decade. The initiative, which aims to immediately house the chronically homeless rather than gradually work them into a home, has proven highly effective in reducing the burden on state-run shelters and hospitals. Furthermore, housing one homeless person for one year costs less than half of what would otherwise be spent on food, temporary housing, and medical care.
At a time when cities are increasingly criminalizing panhandling, public sleeping, and other activities associated with being homeless, it is important that cities and states work to address the issues at hand. We, the undersigned, praise your direct approach toward reducing homelessness, and ask that you continue working toward your goal of providing a home for every Utah resident.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: David Shankbone via Creative Commons