Strategic plan to address homelessness in Utah focused on collaboration, housing

Mar 13, 2023, 5:12 PM | Updated: 7:18 pm

SALT LAKE CITYThe Utah Homelessness Council has launched the state’s new strategic plan to address homelessness statewide.

Two years ago, the state legislature charged the Utah Homelessness Council and the Utah Office of Homeless Services with creating a plan to minimize homelessness. The plan, which launched Monday, is a data-driven plan aimed at improving lives in permanent homes.

“What we have is maybe not something that everybody likes perfectly, but we have a balanced plan,” said Wayne Niederhauser, coordinator for the Utah Office of Homeless Services.

They worked with Homebase, a consultant that compiled a comprehensive study of homelessness throughout Utah. Homebase interviewed community leaders, individuals experiencing homelessness, and other stakeholders. 

“It’s an aggressive plan,” Niederhauser said. “It’s really going to take a lot of effort for us as a council, as an office, and as providers to meet the goals of our strategic plan.”

Wayne Niederhauser, coordinator for Utah Homeless Services, at the launch of the new state strategic plan to minimize homelessness on Monday, March 13. (Jed Boal/KSL TV)

The Homelessness Council approved the plan last month. 

“One of the statements in the plan is that we want to have homelessness become rare, brief, and non-recurring,” said Whit Clayton, co-chair of the Utah Homelessness Council. 

The goals are:

  • to increase accessible and affordable permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness across the state
  • increase access to supportive services and case management
  • expand homeless prevention efforts by increasing coordination, resources, and affordable housing
  • target housing resources, and supportive services
  • promote coordination across multiple systems to support people experiencing homelessness

“It’s based on housing. It’s based on prevention,” Niederhauser said. “Prevention is a big part of where we need to focus, and it’s focused on services and coordination.”

Coordination across departments in the state, and coordination across state and local governments.

“It only works if we all work together,” said Gail Miller, co-chair of the Utah Homelessness Council. “This is a vital journey, and this strategic plan will move us forward.”

Niederhauser said they have been treated well by the legislature with regards to funding this year, but they will need a dedicated funding stream in order to fully enact the plan in the years ahead. 

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Strategic plan to address homelessness in Utah focused on collaboration, housing