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Gov. Spencer Cox applauds Utah Legislature and philanthropic community for supporting more than $81.2 million to address homeless services

NEWS RELEASE

March 2, 2024 

Contact:

Emma Williams 

Office of the Governor

(385) 303-4383, ewilliams@utah.gov 

Gov. Spencer Cox applauds Utah Legislature and philanthropic community for supporting more than $81.2 million to address homeless services 

SALT LAKE CITY (March 2, 2024) – After the Legislature approved HB 3, Gov. Spencer Cox praised the comprehensive solutions approved by the Senate and Utah House to address homeless services needs in Utah. The Legislature approved $66.2 million which includes funding for affordable housing, mental health services, shelters for families and the elderly, detox facilities and youth shelters in southern Utah. The Utah Impact Partnership committed an additional $15 million to help support this vulnerable population.

“Our homeless friends need our help, and I’m grateful to live in a state where we take care of each other and our most vulnerable,” said Gov. Cox. “This comprehensive approach will help keep all Utahns safe, improve our cities, counties and businesses, ensure that tax dollars are being spent wisely, and prevent homelessness on the front end. We appreciate the collaborative spirit between the state, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Impact Partnership, our cities and towns, the State Courts and so many others as well as the shared commitment to improve lives.”

The $66.2 million funding package approved by the Legislature includes $50.7 million for emergency shelter, $4.4 million for prevention and $11.1 million for behavioral health. 

Emergency shelter investments of $50.7 million include $25 million for low-barrier shelter development, $21.8 million for statewide homeless system support, $2.5 million for homeless shelter cities mitigation, $10 million for wrap-around services, and $1.4 million for other shelter supports. There’s also an optional “round up” on liquor store purchases that will be donated to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Account, which could generate an additional $2-4 million. 

As it relates to prevention, the Legislature funded $2.5 million for a new HOME Court to facilitate lasting treatment outcomes for homeless individuals, as well as $1.7 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding to support youth experiencing homelessness and $238,000 for additional staff to support state housing programs.

Behavioral health investments of $11.1 million include $8.2 million for a “step-down” facility for individuals with severe mental illness, $2.3 million to help address behavioral health workforce gaps, $351,200 for opioid-related supportive housing, as well as $185,000 for behavioral health licensee support. 

“Our state has embarked on an unprecedented, coordinated effort to address homelessness from every angle,” said Senate President J. Stuart Adams. “The collaboration between Gov. Cox, legislators and community leaders has allowed cutting-edge solutions to move the needle in significant ways. The goal is to connect individuals with resources and help those experiencing mental health, behavioral health and homelessness.”

“I am proud of the work we did this session to address unsanctioned camping, improve housing affordability, and mitigate the effects of homelessness on local communities,” said House Speaker Mike Schultz. “Strengthening accountability, enforcing unsanctioned camping, and establishing better processes and programs for individuals suffering from mental and behavioral health issues are big steps in the right direction.” 

“We sincerely appreciate the collaborative efforts of our governor, the Legislature, and our mayors in addressing this critical issue of homelessness. Their united front underscores the importance of a multifaceted approach, combining enforcement with empathy to relieve the trauma faced by our most vulnerable,” said Randy Shumway, co-chair of the current Utah Homeless Council and treasurer for the Utah Impact Partnership. “The Utah Impact Partnership proudly continues its commitment by matching state efforts with an additional $15 million in philanthropic funds. This reflects our shared dedication to accountability and creating sustainable, dignified solutions for those in need.”

Bills that address Cox administration policy objectives include:

  • H.B. 298: Establishes a “functional-zero” approach by strengthening data accountability requirements and improved governance by reshaping the Homelessness Board.
  • H.B. 299: Strengthens Utah’s civil commitment laws and amends release standards to better align care for patients suffering from mental and behavioral health issues.
  • H.B. 421: Focuses on enforcement of unsanctioned camping and establishes the HOME Court pilot program. 
  • H.B. 548: Allows optional donations to  the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Account.
  • S.B. 139: Establishes a process for the courts to order ongoing administration of antipsychotic medication to maintain a defendant’s competency to stand trial. 

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