“More people are living and dying, miserable and filthy, on our sidewalks, parks and canyons… Most of the suffering is unnecessary.
“From 2007 (when counting methods were standardized) to 2015, the nation’s overall number of unsheltered homeless people fell 32 percent to 173,268 people. Over the same eight years, the number increased 24 percent in San Diego County to 4,156.
“Our performance was worse for “unsheltered chronically homeless individuals,” a federal category that describes people who, because of mental illness and other disabilities, lived outdoors repeatedly or for a year or more. These are society’s most vulnerable and pathetic people.
“In San Diego, the number of chronics soared 77 percent (to 1,249), while nationwide they fell 30 percent. We look even worse compared with Los Angeles, which reduced its chronics by 37 percent (to 10,983) and overall unsheltered homeless by 21 percent.
“Utah’s governor in 2004, decided to end chronic homelessness within a decade, the state’s official number of homeless declined 91 percent from 2005 through 2015… …As of January, the state counted just 168 chronics, whom officials know by name and gently try to coax into apartments.
“…Specifically, Utah embraced a policy called Housing First, which originated with a 1992 experiment in New York City. It was adopted by Congress beginning in 1999 and expanded by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama….
..Housing First boils down to offering subsidized apartments to chronics with few strings attached, and then providing voluntary access to psychiatric care, job training and other social services. It inverts the standard model, which requires behavior changes to earn entry into housing. Utah will help you change your life, but it doesn’t require it to get you off the street.
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