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Utah has slashed chronic homelessness by 91 percent in the last ten years with a simple solution — give the homeless a home.

The turnaround in Utah means that only 178 people remain chronically homeless in the state — so few that Utah’s housing officials know them all by name.

The state adopted a policy called “Housing First” which calls for putting the homeless in housing before addressing the issues that caused their homelessness in the first place.

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Traditionally in social service sectors, homeless people are required to get a job, deal with substance abuse or treat mental health issues first before they can even be considered for housing.

Chronically homeless people are those who’ve been without a home for a full year or homeless three times in four years. They make up only about 10% of the homeless population, but account for about 50% of the costs associated with homelessness.

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It costs more than $19,000 a year to take care of someone living on the street, according to Deseret News, but less than $8,000 to house and help someone through the Housing First plan in Utah.

Since Utah’s dramatic success, other states, including Indiana, Hawaii and Washington state, are considering the model.

(WATCH the video below) – Photo by Jason Riedy, CC

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