HUD Secretary Reaffirms Housing First as a Model That Works!

As a Regional Network we have participated in pilot programming in partnership with the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance to glean data which yielded an “actual cost” to the taxpayer, to allow someone to remain homeless. Study after study has shown in excess of a 60% decrease in health care costs for (formerly) homeless men and women, once they have been housed. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan recently appeared on The Daily Show and talked about this very issue. In pulling resources together for this article the reporter spoke with the infamous Phil Mangano who used a term  that so appropriately describes just how our homeless men and women move through our systems…  “randomly ricochet”.

For a full run down click here

Here are a few points the article made which I found to be of great interest:

The 2009 study “Where We Sleep: The Costs of Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles,” which followed 10,193 homeless individuals, found that the typical public cost for services for residents in supportive housing was $605 a month. For the homeless the cost was $2,897.

The rate of $2,897 per month totals about $35,000 a year.

Hospitals, police and courts top the list. Chronically homeless people are regular visitors to emergency rooms, and each visit results in a hefty bill. They also frequently use mental health and addiction treatment services. They tend to rack up lots of arrests, leading to costly jail stays and use of court time.

“They randomly ricochet through very expensive services, Mangano said.

Mangano even looked at the impact on libraries, finding that many of them had to hire extra security to handle homeless loiterers.

Using data from the 65 cities — of all different sizes and demographics — the cost of keeping people on the street added up to between $35,000 and $150,000 per person per year, Mangano said.

Conversely, after the housing-first programs had been established, Mangano said, he looked at the cost of keeping formerly homeless people housed. That range: $13,000 to $25,000 per person per year.

“We learned that you could either sustain people in homelessness for $35,000 to $150,000 a year, or you could literally end their homelessness for $13,000 to $25,000 a year,” he said.

Why does it work? Rosen said housing people eliminates risk factors related to sleeping on the street, such as exposure to harsh temperatures and unhealthy drug habits that go untreated.

Supportive housing, by contrast, provides a healthy environment.

I’d say..”PolitiFact”…based on our findings that the Secretary’s statements are entirely true.


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