Utah nonprofit agency concerned about lack of funding to support homelessness


Maddie McCarthy


The Utah Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) released its draft budget for the 2025 fiscal year, and the allocated funding for affordable housing and homeless services is significantly less than Gov. Spencer Cox’s budget recommendation.

In December, Cox released his budget recommendations, which allocated $45.5 million for affordable housing, $193 million for alleviating homelessness, and $150 million for the Utah First Homes Program.

Stay one step ahead. Join our email list for the latest news.


House Speaker Mike Shultz (R-Davis County) previously said there was not enough money to approve that funding recommendation.

EAC’s recommendation allocates $41 million towards affordable housing and homelessness. The legislature has until the end of the session, which adjourns on March 1, to make changes and approve a final budget.

Michelle Flynn, executive director of The Road Home, told State of Reform that if Cox’s recommendations had been approved as he proposed them, the state would be on a clear path to alleviating homelessness. However, EAC’s proposal will not be enough to cover all the necessary services. 

That lack of funding, Flynn said, creates instability because agencies and organizations have to pull back on the services they offer. That causes people to move around to different places, trying to find help.

“I have nothing but respect for elected officials; what a tough job that is, and I’m sure there are many really, really compelling causes they hear from,” Flynn said. “We, of course, feel that having a stable home is the base of everything else, for every other kind of need you have. If you don’t have a stable place to stay, you can’t access the supports on any of the other fronts.”

Flynn’s organization has housing programs that provide people with support in order to find stable homes.

One of its programs is called “rapid re-housing,” which works with individuals and families to help them find a new place to live in order to remain housed.

An important aspect of rapid re-housing is barrier removal. A barrier could be a debt to a utility company, or the deposit on an apartment or house that is often upwards of three times the monthly rent. The program removes these barriers so the people affected do not end up without a home.

The Road Home also provides permanent supportive housing.

“With permanent supportive housing, we developed that along with some of our sister agencies to really meet the needs of individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness,” Flynn said.

The program has several different permanent housing locations where residents pay 30 percent of whatever their income is towards their rent. If a person does not have an income, it is not a barrier for entry. Flynn said each location has an onsite case management team to help residents find work, get benefits, increase their income, and more.

All of these programs require outside funding.

“We struggle with having the right kinds of resources, and we’re not able to help nearly as many individuals and families because the cost is so much higher now.”

— Flynn

Because her organization provides only housing services, Flynn said it partners with other organizations and agencies to address issues like mental, behavioral, and physical health.

She also said that funding prevention is the key to reducing, and ultimately eradicating, homelessness. EAC’s proposed budget mostly focuses on affordable housing.

“The reason that people are coming—and the numbers of people experiencing homelessness has gone up—is because we need to do more to prevent that from happening,” Flynn said. “So really investing in the types of supports in the community to keep people housed in the first place is essential.”

Flynn is hopeful about legislation that could help harmonize the state’s actions on homelessness. 

House Bill 298, sponsored by Rep. Tyler Clancy (R-Utah County), would replace the 29-member Utah Homelessness Council with the nine-member Utah Homeless Services Board. That board would be in charge of evaluating all legislation and funding related to homeless services.

Flynn said she is happy to see that Clancy has met with a variety of stakeholders to create the bill. If created, the board will need to ensure that it works towards the goal of reducing homelessness, she said.

“The makeup of the council, the outcomes and goals that are outlined in the bill, always have to tie back to the goal of reducing homelessness in the state. Sometimes people attribute a lot of the role of that council to overseeing the funding … but that’s not their whole job. Their job needs to be looking across the system.”

— Flynn

Flynn also wants to see how the new board would take on the state’s comprehensive plan to address homelessness.

HB 298 passed in the House and is awaiting a second reading in the Senate.

Flynn will be speaking on the “Solutions to Housing Insecurity & Homelessness” panel at the 2024 Utah State of Reform Health Policy Conference on March 7. Those interested can register for the event here.

Leave a Comment