SALT LAKE CITY — Many Utahns are used to donating a certain percentage of their income to charity, and a local philanthropist is hoping they'll apply that same philosophy in a unified quest to end chronic homelessness statewide.
Jack Gallivan, former publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune, is asking every Utah household and business to pledge 1 percent of their annual income one time, in a concerted bid to provide "supportive housing" for people who are chronically homeless.
His "1% Campaign" kicked off recently, with the hope that small payments by many Utahns spread out over as much as three years will provide a permanent "housing-first" endowment to end homelessness in Utah.
The goal is $100 million, which would fund permanent housing and support services in perpetuity.
"If your annual income is $50,000, we're hoping for a donation of $500 — whether that's in one lump sum or spread out in small payments over three years," Gallivan said. A monthly payment to cover that pledge would amount to about $14. Detailed information can be found and pledges can be made on the campaign's website, www.CrusadeForTheHomeless.org or by calling 801-263-4099.
Gallivan's Crusade for the Homeless Foundation was founded more than a decade ago, as public and private interests were trying to find ways to effectively address the dynamics that feed the cycle of homelessness some people fall into.
By 2004, Gallivan — along with community advocates and government partners — had adopted a housing-first philosophy that has been proven to reduce chronic homelessness by finding permanent housing quickly and then offering other services that ultimately save tax dollars, he said.
The system keeps chronically homeless people out of emergency shelters, jails and treatment facilities that are more costly than simply housing them in the first place, he said. A 2009 study found that the housing-first approach has saved the state $3.3 million in less than five years and resulted in a 33 percent drop in the number of long-term homeless people using emergency shelter space.
While people who have been homeless for more than a year represent only 10 percent of those who find themselves without a place to live at any given time, they consume 50 percent of the available resources, Gallivan said.
Utah's efforts to build supportive housing apartments — for which residents pay 30 percent of their income — have resulted in about 500 units currently serving the chronically homeless. Social service providers are also involved on a regular basis with residents to help meet a variety of needs. Gallivan estimates the state needs another 2,500 such units.
Four existing facilities — Sunrise Metro, Grace Mary Manor, Palmer Court and the Kelly Benson Apartments — have been built in the past four years in Salt Lake County using private donations as the impetus to draw local, state and federal money.
Vaughn McDonald, co-director of Gallivan's foundation, said the facilities are ultimately owned and operated by local housing authority officials in their respective areas. The foundation has worked directly with the Salt Lake City Housing Authority, Salt Lake County housing officials, the Road Home, and the Eccles Foundation, in addition to state government, in assembling funding and oversight for the projects. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided a large share of the furnishings for them, Gallivan said.
At 95, Gallivan said he's hoping to see the 1% Campaign reach its goal, "but I'll have to outdo Methuselah" if the rate of giving doesn't pick up.
The Utah State Tax Commission collected about $52 billion in 2009, Gallivan said, noting that 1 percent of that would be $520 million. "We're only looking for 20 percent of that. We don't think that's too much to shoot for."
Gallivan said his motivation comes from his upbringing. After he was orphaned at age 5, he was adopted by his aunt, Jenny Kearns, who owned the Salt Lake Tribune and founded Kearns St. Anne's Orphanage, providing homes for more than 100 children.
He remembers going with her each Christmas as she provided gifts for the orphans, and he was infused with the importance of giving to those in need, he said, emotion visible on his face. "I guess you sleep better at night knowing others have a bed and something to eat at night before they go to sleep."
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