HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS

National and Utah homeless population growing

Dec 19, 2023, 4:00 PM

a homeless camp on the side of the road is pictured. The Utah homeless population is increasing, al...

Cars drive past a homeless camp on the side of Victory Road in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week found that homelessness across the country hit a record high in 2023. Utah isn’t an exception.

According to HUD’s report, homelessness saw a 12% increase nationally from 2022 to 2023. The report found that about 20 of every 10,000 people living in the U.S. experience homelessness for at least a night.

Chief Development Officer Dan Benshoff with Volunteers of America Utah said he wasn’t surprised at the numbers.

“Anecdotally, if you just drive around downtown or anywhere in the city… you can kind of surmise that the homeless population is growing.”

Utah’s 2023 Annual Report on Homelessness found that about 11 out of 10,000 people experience homelessness in the state.

Benshoff said their shelters and others like the Road Home who serve the Utah homeless population are near capacity most of the time. Utah reported an almost 4% increase in the homeless population year over year.

HUD’s report highlighted rising housing costs and the end of pandemic aid as factors for the increase. Benshoff echoed that those factors are also having an effect on the Utah homeless population.

“The cost of living that exists here in the valley, the increase in cost of living for housing, for food for everything else is kind of pushing more people towards homelessness.”

Related: First microshelter opens in Salt Lake

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National and Utah homeless population growing