Chronic homelessness is almost gone in Utah

Real Estate Agent with Utah Homes 9334967-SA00

Every once in a while someone looks at the cost of a program and asks, "Well, if it costs that much to help a person why don't we just give the money to them directly."

This was the situation in Utah.

There were thousands of people that were described as "chronically homeless." They are the ones on the street for a long time. 

Their care (programs, medical help, incarcerations) account for half of the state budget that has been allocated to this issue.

The Homeless Task Force reported that the average cost of care for the chronic homeless is $19,208. This, according to a report on NBC.

Providing a home ends up shaving the cost down to $7,800, according to the same report. As a result, Utah's chronic homeless problem is down by over 90%. They're getting surprisingly close to zero.


I know. There are those who will shout, "that's sending the wrong message" or "what about us who work for a living?"

I hear you. However, this strategy appears to be effective in not only reducing homelessness and the spin-off effects of such hardship, it also has the benefit of providing homes first and jobs and education as the next step.

It's one of those win win situations.

The homeless benefit. The city benefits. Society benefits.

And it costs less.

Other states should take a look into this.

Comments (9)

Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

Hey Chuck.  Sounds like the perfect solution to me.  Plus it gives these people a second chance at having a normal life again.  Hurray for UTAH!

May 04, 2015 08:08 AM
Chuck Willman
Utah Homes - Alpine, UT
Utah Homes

Belinda Spillman 

I first saw reference to this on the Daily Show. I thought, "Oh, here we go; time to make fun of naive Utah". They actually did a pretty good job of reporting- which was nice. I've since read lots of articles on this; they too have been overwhelmingly positive. Then again, the serious problem of homelessness is in need of a feel good- results oriented story.

May 04, 2015 08:27 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Glad to hear that Utah is leading the pack.  I shudder when I think of all the money that is donated and the government has earmarked for this issue, why the problem persists.  A

May 04, 2015 08:37 AM
Chuck Willman
Utah Homes - Alpine, UT
Utah Homes

Ron and Alexandra Seigel I was thinking of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation when I started checking into this. They have truckloads of money but they tend to look at the root of any issue and try to find a solution that may be overlooked. I think this is one of those types of issues where someone threw out an obvious cost cutting solution that seemed a bit ridiculous. Upon trying it they found a lot to like. It has been ten years in the making and the "chronic homeless population which was pegged at almost 2,000 is now just below 200. And they're working on taking care of that. I'd like to see if a place with a larger population can duplicate the results.

May 04, 2015 08:47 AM
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty

I'm all about helping people get back on their feet but I wouldn't want to turn them from chronic homeless to chronic drains on society either. I think there needs to be limits to how long people can stay on these programs. 

May 04, 2015 09:43 AM
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Just don't know about this program.  I understand some people have issues they can't overcome and need some assistance.  At first blush I just don't know if the state is doing the right thing or not.   

May 04, 2015 07:59 PM
Michele Cadogan 917-861-9166
Fillmore Real Estate 2990 Av U, Bklyn , NY 11229 - Brooklyn, NY
Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker -

Looks like a program that some our larger citys should review, we need to get our vets off the streets. 

May 05, 2015 12:39 AM
Chuck Willman
Utah Homes - Alpine, UT
Utah Homes

Michele Cadogan I totally agree. I'm surprised by the success of it. My first impulse was to think it seemed like a gimmick that hid the real costs. However, it's showing that if people could get the first boost they can grow to have the ability to right their ship and move out of the program altogether.

May 05, 2015 12:49 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

It's fantastic!  Good for Utah to take the lead.  I often wonder about this approach to a lot of other social problems.

May 09, 2015 11:57 AM