This article from the San Francisco Chronicle reports on an extensive California-based study showing why the Housing First model—which our organization supports—works.
The Economic Roundtable just came out with the largest study on homelessness in American history.
And it turns out the best way to combat homelessness is to provide homes.
The study’s focus was on Santa Clara County, California, home to the extreme wealth of Silicon Valley and the highest percentage of homelessness in the entire US.
The methodology is enough to make a social scientist swoon: Researchers analyzed information about everyone in Santa Clara County who had been homeless between 2007 and 2012 — 104,206 people.
Homelessness, the report details, gets very expensive.
Between costs related to healthcare, social welfare, and the justice system, Santa Clara County as a whole spent $520 million on services for homeless residents.
Those costs didn’t come from everybody who was homeless in that time period. As Gabrielle Canon at Mother Jones notes, much of those costs came from the roughly 2,800 people who were persistently homeless.
“Close to half of all county expenditures were spent on just five percent of the homeless population, who came into frequent contact with police, hospitals, and other service agencies, racking up an average of $100,000 in costs per person annually,” Canon writes.
That’s a ton of money.
And it’s why the simplest solution to ending homelessness — giving them homes — makes so much sense.
The study detailed the efforts of the nonprofit group Destination: Home, which housed 400 of the people tracked in the report. Before they received housing, these homeless created public costs of $62,500 a year — and housing cost less than $20,000 per person.
That’s more than $42,000 in savings every year, more than offsetting the costs of housing.
For that reason, the report’s authors argue that the best way to work with homelessness is to identify the people who put the biggest strain on community resources and give them homes.
The strategy, known as Housing First, has a track record of success.
Retrieved June 4, 2015 from http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/The-cheapest-way-to-end-homelessness-is-6292826.php