FOR DECADES, THE UNITED STATES HAS grappled with the homelessness problem: what’s the best way to deal with thousands of homeless people living rough in our cities? Should we crack down on drug use? Should we improve rehabilitation efforts? Should we try to fix the economy so the homeless can get jobs?
During this debate, the state of Utah quietly solved the problem. Between 2005 and 2015, they reduced their chronic homelessness rate by 91 percent. And the answer was almost stupidly, blindingly simple: just give homes to the homeless. The people who grumbled about the expense of housing the homeless have been silenced by the numbers: homeless people tend to cost the state a lot of money, whether it’s in jailing them or in paying their emergency room bills, and simply giving them homes is much, much cheaper.