Utah's Homeless Task Force announced it will continue its latest program to expunge the criminal records of those who qualify to help them back on their feet, per the Deseret News. The news came last week after the group finished the pilot version of the program, which members of the force say was successful.
The program, which began in April 2014, hoped that forgiving petty crimes — and five convictions or less, for example — would help the 13,621 homeless people in Utah get over the hurdle of winning hiring managers over. More often than not, they're faced with rejection.
"It's demoralizing," Shawn McMillen of the First Step House (a substance abuse treatment program) told Fox 13. "They're doing all the things that they can do, making restitution to the best of their ability, struggling to get back on their feet. But, they continue to be stigmatized after they've paid the sanction that society has required of them."
Over the test period, they paid trial fines, tickets and expunged petty records. But the success didn't come from the numbers — there were challenges. In total, 22 criminal records were expunged. Some fines also exceeding the minimum $100-$200 target were also an obstacle to helping as many people as possible.
In total, it spent $80,000. And although the organization didn't help every single homeless person in the state, it still counts the move as successful and will continue to see it through. Given the state's track record — Utah chronic homelessness has gone down 91 percent in the last 10 years — it know what it's doing.
"It was a good learning experience. The pilot was worth the $80,000. We learned a lot. We'll have a system in place that will deal with what we think the need is," Lloyd Pendleton, director of the Utah Homeless Task Force, told Deseret News.