This research synopsis, in partnership with scholars from around the state, provides a collection of data points that move the conversation from individuals’ perceptions of Utah women’s experiences toward data-driven realities.
Homelessness Among Utah Women
In 2020, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness reported that an estimated 3,131 Utah residents experienced homelessness on any given day. And, according to data shared by the Office of Homeless Services under the Utah Department of Workforce Services, 24,037 people accessed homelessness services in Utah sometime during 2021. Clearly, homelessness is a grave concern for many Utah women and families. As the Utah Women & Leadership Project seeks to strengthen the impact of all Utah girls and women, understanding homelessness for female residents is important. This research snapshot focuses on three key areas:
- An overview of homelessness in the nation and trends across the last several years.
- A synopsis of homelessness in Utah, including demographic information, influencing factors, and state spending.
- A discussion of current efforts in the state to decrease homelessness and meet the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness.
Nationally, males are more likely than females to experience homelessness. According to the most recent comprehensive point-in-time dataset from 2020, 22 of every 10,000 males were homeless compared to 13 of every 10,000 females. In total, the number of men experiencing homelessness was 352,211 versus 223,578 females. Additionally, there were 3,161 transgender individuals and 1,460 non-binary individuals who experienced homelessness. While White individuals make up the largest number experiencing homelessness, people of color, including individuals who are Pacific Islanders, Black, or Native American, have the highest rates of homelessness.
As noted above, 24,037 people accessed homeless services in Utah sometime during 2021. To put this in perspective with recent national numbers, 18 of every 10,000 people in the US have experienced homelessness, whereas 9.8 of every 10,000 people in Utah have experienced homelessness. Females made up 39.0% (9,368 of 24,037) of the individuals who accessed homeless services in Utah in 2021. Of the 9,368 women, approximately 23.0% (2,153) were under the age of 18.
What Utahns Can Do
Utah has been known for setting challenging goals and undertaking innovative approaches to address homelessness in the state. Additionally, state funding for homeless services and initiatives has increased dramatically over the last several years. However, considering recent rises in homelessness, policy makers and community leaders need to continue prioritizing this important issue. One key factor affecting Utah’s rate of homelessness is the housing and rental market, including prices, interest rates, and the number of available units. Affordable, accessible housing is an overall concern for any growing population, but especially for those experiencing homelessness and low incomes. Multiple strategies are necessary to ensure that those experiencing homelessness have access to a strong network of resources and stable housing. Ongoing efforts should also focus on developing homelessness services in underserved areas. Furthermore, we need to better understand and address other predictive factors of homelessness, such as mental and physical health and domestic violence.
Although Utah’s rate of homelessness is less than the national rate, thousands of individuals and families experience sheltered and unsheltered homelessness each year. We must continue efforts to provide resources for those currently experiencing homelessness and develop strategies that ensure homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring. As we do so, we will not only strengthen the impact of more Utah girls and women, but also their families.
To learn more about homelessness among Utah women, read the full snapshot.