Matt Minkevitch

It seems overly simple to say that the solution to chronic homelessness is providing a home.

Overly simple, indeed. And until Matt Minkevitch and The Road Home actually started doing it, virtually no one thought such a simplistic idea would work.

But it does work — and, in true entrepreneurial style, it works better, at a cheaper cost, than alternatives like jail.

The Road Home, a Salt Lake-based nonprofit, calls its model Housing First. It really is as simple as it sounds, positing that even the hard-to-serve chronically homeless are best served by, first and foremost, gaining a home, from which their other problems can be addressed.

The Road Home, under executive director Minkevitch's leadership, has developed, in addition to the usual emergency shelters, 184 units of permanent supportive apartments for chronically homeless people.

The results have been astonishing. In late 2008, the state of Utah and Salt Lake City Police Department released a study showing that chronically homeless men, previously among the SLCPD's most-arrested, showed a 65 percent average drop in bookings and a 55 percent reduction in jail time once they were provided with housing.

"Housing is more cost-efficient and humane than the alternative," Salt Lake police Chief Chris Burbank said in the report. "We can't arrest our way out of social problems like homelessness and drug addiction."

A cost-effective, simple solution to a chronic problem — that's real entrepreneurship.