The Utah Way to Ending Homelessness

Dec 9, 2016

by David Levine, President & CEO

One of our former board members shared this Fast Company magazine article on Lloyd Pendleton.  After having retired from long careers with Ford and the Mormon church in Utah, Mr. Pendleton was asked to lead the state’s homeless taskforce.

Growing up very self-reliant on a ranch in Utah, Lloyd Pendleton saw homeless persons as undeserving of support.  Blindingly, he assumed that homeless persons were lazy, unskilled, and responsible for their own condition and circumstances.

As Pendleton noted, he thought this way until he learned about the “Housing First” approach.  He understood immediately that mutual responsibility and self-motivation are at its core.

After meeting with Sam Tsemberis, the author of the “Housing First” approach, he understood that housing was the first step — and the most important one — in moving homeless persons to housing stability and self-sufficiency.  Once housed, the second step was to provide them with case management support.

Taking on the challenge of housing the homeless in Utah, Pendleton succeeded in housing 85 percent of the chronically homeless in Utah within 12 months. By 2015, within ten years of his beginning with the taskforce, the numbers of chronically homeless had dropped from 2,000 to 200 — a 90 percent reduction.

Pendleton’s story is very uplifting.  It shows the success that “Housing First” can win against all the odds.