Audit Says Utah Homelessness Rising, Housing Not
SALT LAKE CITY – A new audit presented to the Utah state legislature on Tuesday found homelessness on the rise in Utah, while housing still lagged behind.
“This trend raises questions about whether the resources devoted to homeless services are producing the desired results,” the audit said.
He revealed that the number of homeless people has increased by 200% since 2016. The number of people considered “chronically homeless” has also almost tripled during the same period.
The audit, prepared by the Office of the Legislative Auditor General, tracked funding for homeless services, which stood at over $ 300 million in 2019. But it warned that new shelters would not open before the end of 2019.
“Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the minimum operating time of the HRCs, it is difficult to assess the impact of funding adequately and equitably,” the audit said.
But he wondered if the state was achieving all the goals it set for itself with this funding. The audit itself followed on from the 2018 audit which found a lack of oversight of homeless services.
“Currently, the Utah Homeless Services System measures its success in terms of how quickly it helps homeless people obtain and maintain housing. If that is the primary goal, the evidence suggests that Utah is making progress. Even among the chronically homeless population, once they have secured housing, most remain housed. One of the challenges of this housing-focused strategy is to provide enough housing for all who need it, ”the audit said.
There are also problems in obtaining housing. The cost of housing right now is an issue.
“We found that the cost of new permanent supportive housing was quite high, with cost estimates ranging from $ 250,000 to $ 275,000 per unit,” the audit said. “For example, in June 2021, The Road Home completed construction of The Magnolia, a 65 unit permanent supportive housing center for chronically homeless people. The cost of the construction was reported at $ 17 million (in fact, $ 16.4 million was land that was donated). This comes to a unit cost of approximately $ 262,000.
To meet the demand for permanent supportive housing, it would cost the state more than $ 300 million for 1,200 units. Salt Lake County recently estimated over half a billion dollars to supply more than 2,900 homes to meet demand.
In response to the audit, Wayne Niederhauser, former Speaker of the Senate and now head of the Utah Office of Homeless Services, said they were addressing some of the issues.
“The audit highlighted the efforts that the Homelessness Coordinator and the Homeless Services Office have been working on for several months. A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued next month to revise the state’s strategic plan on homelessness. In addition, we will be working with the Utah Homeless Council on data integration and improvement of the homeless management information system, ”he wrote. “As an office, we are committed to continuing to support the Utah Homeless Council, Local Homeless Councils and the Utah Homeless Network to find solutions that create the best opportunity to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. “
Read the audit here: