Tackling Chronic Homelessness by Giving Them Homes

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It was a headline that sounded too good to be true. "The Surprisingly Simple Way Utah Solved Chronic Homelessness and Saved Millions." That story ran April 17 in the Washington Post -- and Utah officials say it's for real. The state claims it has cut chronic homelessness by 70% in the past ten years thanks to a counter-intuitive program. Housing First takes the chronically homeless and the hardest cases -- whether they're substance abusers, repeat offenders, the mentally ill, those usually considered least deserving of housing -- and put them in a home with social services and boom. Advocates say not only does it work, it saves money. Critics say it's a PR handout that neglects the most deserving people on the streets.

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Photo: Matthew Woitunski

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Warren Olney