State officials end chronic homelessness

 SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 UTAH) – The State of Utah gets an “A” when it comes to eliminating chronic homelessness.  91% of people who were labeled chronically homeless ten years ago are now in permanent housing.  The chronic homeless population includes people who have been homeless for at least a year.

“I’m very thankful. I really am,” said Grace Mary Manor Resident Kim Hansen.

Kim Hansen proudly shows us his apartment at Grace Mary Manor.  It’s a far cry from being homeless.

“We have a nice kitchen, a nice bath, a lovely bed, as you can see and a gorgeous view,” said Hansen.

In 2005, there were 1932 people who were labeled in the chronic homeless population.  Now, it’s down to 178 including the Chidester Family.

“He was trying to get jobs, and then i was trying to get jobs to make it and then my father ended up passing away,” said Bud Bailey resident Amanda Chidester.

Amanda, her husband, and three girls bounced from shelter to shelter before ending up in permanent family housing thanks to the state.

“Since we’ve been at Bud Bailey my husband’s been able to find work. I’ve been able to find work. My kid’s grades improved,” said Chidester.

It’s taken ten years and many changes to get success stories like the Chidester Family or Kim Hansen.

“We worked on policies, we worked on procedures, what we’re really after is working on individuals,” said Gordon Walker, State Housing and Community Development Director.

He says it’s on a case-by-case basis.

“If they’re mentally ill they need case management. If they’re alcoholics, they need a way to break that. what we’ve provided is services so these individuals can deal with the problems they have,” said Walker.

This state-funded facility features all the amenities of a prized apartment complex.  A spacious in-house gym, game room, and library, but it’s not free.  30% of a resident’s income, whether it’s a social security check or from a job, goes to rent.  Walker is mum on how much it costs taxpayers.

“We don’t count dollars saved now. What we are counting are lives changed,” said Walker.

Now that the chronic homeless population is at what the state calls a “functional zero” they can focus on the more than 14,516 other homeless people who remain.

There are 178 Utahns who make up the remaining chronic homeless population.  Walker says they know who those people are and have reached out to them.  Some have declined the help.

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