The best way to end homelessness is to give homeless people a home.

I know this doesn’t have to do much with therapy, but I wanted to share this.

Utah gives homeless people their own home. The program, called Housing First, started In 2005.

Many temporary homeless have suffered economic dislocation, but of course many chronic homeless  have psychological problems and/or substance abuse issues.

Putting someone into permanent housing cost Utah $8,000 a year.  This includes case management.

The old Utah system was estimated to cost nearly $1,000,000  per person per year, taking into account the cost of shelters, case management,  medical complications of living outdoors, ER visits, ambulances, police intervention, temporary housing in jails,  and so on.

By giving the homeless their own home, Utah reduces this cost significantly by reducing medical complications, ER visits, case management, shelters, ambulances,  police involvement, and jail overhead.

Utah’s pilot program gave 17 people their own home, and after 22 months not one of them was back on the street. In the years since, Utah’s chronic homeless population has fallen by 74%.

A Colorado study found the average homeless person cost the state $43,000 for shelter and shelter-related overhead.  Putting them in permanent housing would cost $17,000.

 

See The Financial Page, New Yorker, September 22, 2014, page 42.