Letter: Before Utah can solve homelessness, we have to solve poverty

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Salt Lake Health Department, Salt Lake City Police and other partners conduct a camp cleanup in the hills east of Victory Road in Salt Lake. Thursday, June 14, 2018.

The homeless problem in the state of Utah has grown out of control.

The common misconception among most of the world is that the majority of the homeless population is comprised of single male or females that have some type of drug problem. Although there may be a severe opioid problem in the state of Utah, the annual report shows that 35 percent of the homeless population is full families. This should call for a good hard look at the shelter system the state of Utah has in place.

With kids involved, a shelter that worries a single homeless man of “thieving,” isn’t conducive to the right every child has of an equal opportunity and a safe living environment. For a family to avoid a shelter — and the food, and availability of health care it provides — opens the floor up to issues such as malnutrition, lack of vaccinations and lack of educational opportunities at even the grade-school level.

The problem isn’t homelessness itself; it’s the lack of safe poverty programs that break the homeless cycle. Instead of raiding homeless settlements, more should be done to strengthen the programs in place, so they don’t just work, but thrive at bettering the population of Utah as a whole.

Sara Kemp, Salt Lake City