Intersector collaboration helps improve services for homeless in Utah

blogimage_HomelessServicesUtahSince January 2015, Utah’s Homelessness Services Collective Impact Council has been meeting to assess the current status of services available to homeless populations throughout the state in the hope of developing a strategic plan to improve service accessibility and delivery. The intersector council includes representatives from business, government, and non-profits and is guided by Fraser Nelson, Salt Lake County’s recently hired Director of Data and Innovation.

Utah’s success in reducing homelessness has received national attention for its unconventional approach: Engage chronically homeless individuals by placing them in permanent homes first. As reported in the 2014 Utah Comprehensive Report on Homelessness, Utah has reduced homelessness by 72 percent since 2005 and has reduced veteran homelessness almost entirely. These substantial reductions have been attributed to Utah’s strategy in providing apartments for homeless individuals coupled with a comprehensive array of support services that minimize the chances that recently-housed individuals and families lose their homes.

Utah has reduced homelessness by 72 percent since 2005 and has reduced veteran homelessness almost entirely.

Building upon the momentum from the state’s successful reductions, Mayor Ben McAdams convened the Homelessness Services Collective Impact Council to implement collective impact principles to set more ambitious goals with measurable outcomes to sustain the success. The council has agreed to implement the following collective impact principles:

The council is working to further refine the state’s successes in reducing homelessness and consider ways to sustain its progress through appropriate funding streams, including using the pay for success partnership framework. The council’s membership includes faith-based leaders, providers of homeless services, elected-officials, business representatives, and law enforcement officials. Mayor Becker kicked off the council’s efforts by convening the Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission to examine public perception on homelessness and the current state of services aimed at preventing and mitigating homelessness, implementing a tactic we refer to as Assessing the History of Addressing the Issues. The commission will inform the council’s efforts by offering recommendations and strategies. The council will then develop a strategic plan to address gaps in services to develop a  more comprehensive approach and streamline service delivery to assist individuals with finding and retaining a home.