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Strategic plan unveiled to address homelessness in Utah

Posted at 5:58 PM, Mar 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-13 19:58:59-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Two years ago, legislation was passed tasking the Utah Homelessness Council and the Utah Office of Homeless Services with crafting a plan to tackle homelessness in the Beehive State.

Beginning in early 2022, a consulting agency reviewed multiple survey reports, interviewed community leaders and those experiencing homelessness.

On Monday, the council kicked off the state's new strategic plan to address homeless across the state.

"We want to reduce the effects of homelessness, we want to reduce homelessness, we want to prevent homelessness," said Wayne Niederhauser, State of Utah Homeless Coordinator.

Niederhauser says the plan will help outline gaps, as well as, recommending solutions for making sure homelessness is rare.

"We've got a really good idea of what housing, response is needed, things like First Step House that we're here today that deal with severe mental illness, and drug addiction, behavioral health issues," said Niederhauser.

In the plan, several goals and strategies are outlined:

  • Increase accessible and affordable permanent housing opportunities for people experiencing homelessness across the state.
  • Increase access to and availability of supportive services and case management for people experiencing and at risk of homelessness
  • Expand homeless prevention efforts by increasing coordination, resources, and affordable housing opportunities
  • Target housing resources and supportive services to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness
  • Promote alignment and coordination across multiple systems of care to support people experiencing and at risk of homelessness

The plan also reveals several target outcomes they look to reach by 2027:

  • Create or identify 574 housing opportunities for people experiencing homelessness
  • Reduce number of people becoming homeless each year by 20%
  • Increase supportive service interactions by 20%
  • Reduction of vulnerable subpopulations of chronically homeless, veterans, survivors of domestic violence, youth, and people with disabilities by 7%

Of all the individuals in Utah who have experienced homelessness since 2018 and enrolled in the system of care, over 55% had a history of unsheltered homelessness.

An estimated 39% of people newly entering the system each year will have experienced or will experience unsheltered homelessness, according to data provided in Utah's Plan to Address Homelessness.

"Now, each one of those local homeless councils and we have 13 across the state will be able to use the state plan as a template with enough flexibility to tailor their plan to their unique local issues and there and structure," said Niederhauser.

The point-in-time count for 2022 found that 3,556 people were experiencing homelessness.