Providing housing for the homeless saves money

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It shouldn’t be a surprise, but to many people it is.  It turns out that instead of letting people suffer on the street or in shelters, we should be working to provide housing for them.  Not only is it better for them personally, it’s better for all of us because it leads to much lower costs to society (i.e. the emergency room, criminal justice, drug and alcohol treatment, etc.).

Plenty of research around the country has shown that housing combined with services (aka permanent supportive housing) is the best solution to chronic homelessness. Finally, we are beginning to get some hard numbers of how this plays out in Los Angeles, the “homeless capital of the world.”

A report released today by United Way of Greater Los Angeles and conducted by USC researchers provides data on public costs before and after entering housing for four people. The analysis found that:

The total cost of public services for two years on the streets was $187,288 compared to $107,032 for two years in permanent housing with support services—a savings of $80,256 or almost 43%.

This level of decline in public costs is consistent with findings from another upcoming report on Los Angeles which I’ve had the opportunity to review. Hopefully, these reports will push policy makers and funders to direct increased resources and efforts to address chronic homelessness toward the long-term, cost effective solution of permanent supportive housing rather than short-term, costly attempts such as shelters.

Published by Bill

Social justice advocate and collaborative leader

3 thoughts on “Providing housing for the homeless saves money

  1. you know, that is true, but just giving them a free housing unit in a complex designated for them, and the same free medical benefit that others get, plus a bus pass; would do the trick for many. then they wouldn’t be homeless and desperate any more. they would have safety, a shower, a place to cook, sleep etc. to start out freah and maybe get a job that way. hard to get a job when homeless, for those reasons- no way to make yourself presentable, receive mail, phone calls, etc.
    “supportive housing” unfortunately, the way it is currently designed with huge costs via the middlemen (nonprofits and agencies), are eating up inordinate amounts of housing dollars for these kinds of programs. They may cost 5 times the usual cost of housing.
    So that means these organizations are scamming together to get their share of the public dollar pie, and it is huge.
    Putting up 100 people in supportive housign for some reason , is costing so much, that 1000 other people are being left out on the streets with NO roof over their head. THIS HAS TO STOP.
    the first step even in the chronically homeless cases, is always, GET THEM INTO SHELTER. so for all other homelss as well. because then they can function more normally. SO THIS SHOULD BE THE PRIORITY; GET EVERYONE INTO A HOUSING UNIT FIRST. then start with teh supportive services, which require for some reason, funding fromt he same sources as housing funding. Which mayb eis the key. Fund the supportive services from something other than housing funds, so the poorest who are now homeless , are not robbed as “Peter”, to pay the nonprofits, who are “Paul” or more accurately, the fat self-righteous Pharisees.

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