Home Free?

How Giving Homes to the
Homeless Saves Money

Home Free?In his September 22, 2014 The New Yorker article, “Home Free?, “ James Surowiecki makes the economic case for giving individuals and families experiencing homelessness housing.

It makes more sense for beginning with housing instead of making it the goal – something that you work towards through though continuum of the homeless system.

Writes Surowiecki.

“Our system has a fundamental bias toward dealing with problems only after they happen, rather than spending up front to prevent their happening in the first place. … This is obviously costly in human terms. But it’s expensive in dollar terms, too. The success of Housing First points to a new way of thinking about social programs: what looks like a giveaway may actually be a really wise investment.”

Highlighting Utah’s success with ending chronic homelessness using the Housing First model since 2005 , Surowiecki writes,

“Lloyd Pendleton, the director of Utah’s Homeless Task Force, told me of one individual whose care one year cost nearly a million dollars, and said that, with the traditional approach, the average chronically homeless person used to cost Salt Lake City more than twenty thousand dollars a year. Putting someone into permanent housing costs the state just eight thousand dollars, and that’s after you include the cost of the case managers who work with the formerly homeless to help them adjust.”

And Rapid Re-Housing is working to both prevent and end family homelessness by diverting families to permanent housing of their own instead of the shelter system.

“The economic benefits of keeping people from getting swallowed by the shelter system can be immense: a recent Georgia study found that a person who stayed in an emergency shelter or transitional housing was five times as likely as someone who received rapid rehousing to become homeless again.”

Writes Surowiecki.

Click here for the full article.