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Good, bad news in latest Utah homeless numbers

Posted at 11:32 AM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 13:32:11-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report by Utah officials shows homelessness in the state increased last year compared to the previous year. While that’s not good news, there are some other promising statistics in the report.

The Utah Office of Homeless Services took a close look at those who are unsheltered in the community and is also exploring solutions for how to find a home for everyone who needs and wants one.”

More than 7,700 Utahns experienced homelessness in 2021, which was up 14% from 202. However, officials say factors like pandemic, rising home prices and the lack of affordable housing in Utah are key contributors, and it’s something that’s happening in many other states.

"So we have populations that have been in housing but have been displaced because of redevelopment, they can’t find a situation that‘s affordable to them like they had before," said Wayne Niederhauser, former Utah State Senator. "Without a safety net, where do you go? You end up in a shelter or unsheltered somewhere.”

According to the study, a promising statistic shows that roughly 95% of people who do manage to find housing in Utah do not go back to being homeless.

“Being in a stable housing situation, safe, It’s something that many have longed for. And getting into that position, now they don’t want to lose that.
And so we find that once people are housed they tend to stay housed,” said Neiderhauser.

Finding that stable solution can be difficult. Home prices and rents have been rising more rapidly than many people can keep up with. But Utah legislators recently allocated more than $50 million for affordable housing.

“We are very grateful for the 55 million that they’ve given us to distribute," Neiderhauser said.

People can start an application on July 1 with officials hoping to have those grants awarded by mid-August.

Niederhauser said his team will continue exploring every option possible to try and get as many Utahns out of homelessness as they can.