Utah needs to conduct SNAP outreach to families with children

I want to thank everyone who attended our monthly meeting last week, particularly Dale Ownby, the Director of the Division of Eligibility Services at Utah's Department of Workforce Services, who came and informed us that there are 49,577 households with children in Utah that are participating in Medicaid and appear to also be eligible for SNAP but are not participating in that program. SNAP is a nutrition assistance program that gives people money on an EBT card that can be used to purchase food at a grocery store but cannot be used for any non-food items or services.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the average SNAP benefit for a family with children in Utah is $394 per month.


How many of the 1,558 children who have spent a night in a homeless shelter in Utah this year might have avoided homelessness if their family had been getting $394 a month to help them purchase food?


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The number of seniors experiencing homelessness goes down when you build housing for homeless seniors

The incidence of senior homelessness has been rising steadily in Utah since 2017 as the average rent has moved higher than the average Social Security payment. However, the total number of people over 55 sleeping in shelters in Salt Lake County declined during the past two months by 124 people. Here is data from Utah's homelessness data dashboard showing this 23.7 percent decrease.

The explanation for this decline is that Switchpoint added 100 new rooms to their facility for homeless seniors and veterans. called the Point, in the middle of May. 


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Improving mental health outcomes for people leaving incarceration

On Thursday, July 20, 2023, at a meeting of Utah's Medicaid Advisory Committee, it was revealed that Utah is pursuing a waiver to federal Medicaid rules to improve outcomes for people with serious mental illness who are being released from incarceration in our state. The incidence of mental illness is disproportionately high for people who are incarcerated in Utah and many are released from the jail or the prison to a homeless shelter. 


After Utah submitted a waiver request in this area the federal government approved a similar waiver request from the State of California. This analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation says a little bit about what California is planning to do and how what Utah proposes differs from what Utah has asked permission to do. The Faith and Advocacy Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness has invited Utah's Department of Health and Human Services to come to one of our future meetings to discuss how the waiver could help reduce homelessness if it is approved and whether our state's proposal should be improved by adding elements from California's successful waiver request.


We hope that such a meeting will be scheduled soon.


Let us know you are coming to our Poverty Summit on August 26 by registering on our website.