How to Solve Homelessness? Try Providing Housing

A recent United Way of Great Los Angeles Study finds that “permanent supportive housing is a less costly approach to addressing chronic homelessness.”

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As the amount of housing foreclosures has jumped, the number of individuals who have found them themselves without appropriate, permanent shelter has increased. In addition to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) decided this summer to tract homelessness in specific regions quarterly. The new report, The Homelessness Pulse Project is meant to help HUD “gain a better understanding of the impact of the current economic crisis on homelessness.” In their 2008 Report to Congress HUD found that “[o]n a single night in January 2008, there were 664,414 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons nationwide. Nearly 6 in 10 people who were homeless at a single point-in-time were in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, while 42 percent were unsheltered on the “street” or in other places not meant for human habitation.” The Homeless Cost Study, recently released by The United Way of Great Los Angeles, is another report that finds placing chronically homeless people into permanent supportive housing will not only give those without shelter a safe place to live but save metropolitan areas and taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Other recent reports and studies done by organizations share this view. In a 2009 Policy Guide of the National Alliance to End Homelessness found that providing “[a]ffordable housing is the primary solution to ending episodic homelessness” and created a guide about adopting a ‘Housing First approach.’ Other current studies have focused on the cost of homeless individuals on hospitals. An article about studies conducted in Chicago and Seattle “found that hospitals saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by helping to provide… services together with local advocacy groups.”

According to the Great Los Angeles study over $80,000 of tax dollars will be saved if permanent housing is constructed for homeless individuals. The Los Angeles study is based on the “in-debt analysis of the before and after experiences of four chronically homeless people.” The individuals were placed in “permanent supportive housing.” By placing homeless individuals in these permanent homes, researchers found that participants not only improved their lives and health but that their placement in non-temporary housing decreased the amount of money that would have to be spent on public services such as hospital visits.

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Tags: los angelesgovernancehomelessness

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