State’s Homeless Summit Promotes “Housing First” Model

(KCPW News)  Homeless service providers will gather in Salt Lake City this week for the 9th annual Homeless Summit to discuss ways to end chronic homelessness in Utah. Gordon Walker, the state’s Director of Housing and Community Development, says this year’s summit will highlight the “Housing First Model” addressing the need for housing and mental health services to keep those with psychiatric disabilities off the streets.

“We have found in the state of Utah that it’s much less expensive to provide good, safe, decent, affordable housing for our chronic homeless individuals than to leave them on the street. Economically it makes sense. As a business model it’s just less expensive,” says Walker.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held tomorrow for the new Valor House, a 72-unit facility for homeless veterans located on the VA Campus at the University of Utah. Tamera Kohler, Director of the State Community Services Office, says there are currently about 542 chronic homeless individuals living in Utah. She says the Valor House could eliminate homeless veterans in the state.

“We do expect that those will go down, the Valor house gives us a great opportunity to focus on potentially ending chronic homelessness for veterans by our count in January this year. But we absolutely expect to see a reduction and that we will continue to see reductions in the coming year as well,” says Kohler.

The two-day summit begins tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City.