Utah’s experiment with ending homelessness is capturing national attention – and their successful work mirrors our own. In the past 10 years, the concept of “housing first” has been gaining ground as a long-term strategy for stabilizing people who are chronically homeless. The premise of “housing first” is that moving people into permanent housing, as opposed to offering temporary shelter, enables them to engage in a faster and more direct recovery
process. Utah is the first state in the country to implement housing first on a broad scale. Now, nine years into their work, the state has reduced homelessness by 74 percent and is on track to eradicate homelessness by it's 2015 deadline.
ShelterCare’s The Inside Program (TIP) demonstrates the value of this approach every day. TIP gives chronically homeless individuals a place to live and the support systems they need to achieve stability and independence. Each client is provided with a furnished apartment and case management for up to six months. Once housing is established, the staff works with clients to diagnose the issues that have contributed to their homelessness and the barriers to addressing those issues. Last year, 58 chronically homeless adults were transitioned from the streets into stable housing.
TIP’s impact on the community reaches beyond the clients we serve. Chronically homeless adults, who are not in a recovery program such as TIP, are very costly to the community as they access expensive services more often than others. Malnutrition, sickness, and exposure often lead the chronically homeless to emergency rooms ($420/visit) and mental health units ($865/night) with multiple visits each month being the norm. Alternatively, the housing and
support provided by TIP averages just under $50/day, and often leads to stabilization and independence for a majority of our clients. The results are in: through investing in proven solutions like Housing First, we can make real change happen.
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