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Most Utahns favor spending $25 million to expand housing and services for the homeless, according to a new statewide poll.
However, only 41 percent of Republicans surveyed support such an expenditure.
That second finding could add to the challenges faced by a group seeking such funding from the state Legislature this year.
Homelessness is a Utah problem, not one exclusive to Salt Lake City, according to 50 percent of those polled. That compares with 39 percent who answered that it is solely the city's responsibility.
The statewide poll, commissioned by the The Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics, was conducted Jan. 6-Jan. 13 by SurveyUSA. It polled 989 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
Broken down by "ideology," 39 percent of those who labeled themselves "conservative" support the spending, 65 percent of "moderates" said they backed the measure and 84 percent of self-described "liberals" favored the initiative.
The poll revealed that 50 percent of Republicans said homelessness is solely a Salt Lake City responsibility, while 39 percent said it was a statewide problem. In a contrast, 67 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents surveyed said homelessness is a statewide responsibility.
The survey results come as stakeholders in the recently developed Collective Impact approach to homelessness met to build a strategy to push legislation in the upcoming session of the Utah Legislature. What they are calling the "Homes Initiative" would fund expanded shelters and services throughout Salt Lake County, as well as low-income housing projects.
Last year, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County analyzed the efficiencies of homeless facilities and programs. The result, Collective Impact, seeks to coordinate service providers, local governments and supporters in an effort to produce better outcomes for the homeless as measured for each client.
The analysis proposes housing fewer people at The Road Home shelter on Rio Grande Street near Pioneer Park to reduce impacts in that area. It also seeks smaller facilities scattered around the Salt Lake City metro area.
Now, Collective Impact supporters, including Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, are discussing ways to approach legislators. The strategy sessions among about 40 stakeholders allow for differing opinions to be aired, said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance business group.
"There are different adherents who have a particular point of view," he said. "We want to understand those different perspectives so we can have a unified voice [at the Legislature]."
Mathis said among the messages he would like to convey to lawmakers is that the Collective Impact model is a new, comprehensive way to approach the problems surrounding homelessness.
"Let's look at the whole system and figure out what the whole system needs," he said. "And then look for resources."
Homes Initiative advocates want to "hit all the bases in the Legislature," said McAdams spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend.
"This isn't a problem we can solve in the city or the county," she said. "It's a Utah problem, and it needs a Utah solution."
That could be a tough sell on Capitol Hill, according to Glenn Bailey, executive director of Crossroads Urban Center, which supports the initiative.
Because there are few resources elsewhere, homeless people tend to congregate along the Wasatch Front, particularly in Salt Lake City, he said. "We tend to bear the brunt of the problem."
The state does have a role to play, Bailey said, but how it participates is up to lawmakers.
"Is the state willing to participate and at what level?" he asked. "That's the conversation we're about to have."
How much success the Homes Initiative has at the Legislature may depend on the "big voices" on Capitol Hill, said House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City.
Collective Impact advocates are competing with education, Medicaid expansion, highways and a host of other worthy programs, he explained. But if entities such as the Utah Association of Counties, Utah League of Cities and Towns and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, support the initiative, it will have a greater chance of success.