|Posted on May 29, 2014 at 2:05 PM|
Last week, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness released a study that found that it is three times as expensive to leave homeless people on the street as it is to house them and provide job training and health care. Currently, the taxpayers of Florida pay $31,065 a year per chronically homeless person, as compared to the $10,050 it would take to just take care of them.
Via Orlando Sentinel:
Last fall, the commission spent $15,000 donated by the Orlando Solar Bears to hire the Tulsa, Okla.-based company Creative Housing Solutions, which conducted the analysis. Researchers worked with local homeless outreach programs to identify 107 long-term-homeless residents living in Orange, Osceola or Seminole County. Using actual jail and hospital records, they tracked public expenses through the years to come up with the yearly average of $31,065 per person.
That figure was multiplied by 1,577 — the number of chronically homeless people throughout the three counties. In both cases, the figures were considered conservative.
“We didn’t even include the money spent by nonprofit agencies to feed, clothe and sometimes shelter these individuals,” said lead researcher Gregory Shinn, associate director of the Mental Health Association Oklahoma in Tulsa. “This is only money that we could document for the individuals we studied — and it’s money that is simply being wasted. The law-enforcement costs alone are ridiculous. They’re out of control.”
The reason for the high price tag on homelessness is manifold. It has to do with visits to the emergency room (which are very, very expensive), with incarceration rates (many times homeless people will commit petty crimes simply to have a bed to sleep in), as well as other issues affecting the homeless.
As Andrae Bailey the CEO of Creative Housing Solutions, the Oklahoma-based consulting firm that conducted the study, pointed out to the Orlando Sentinel, a large portion of Florida’s homeless population suffers from some kind of physical or mental disability. PTSD in particular is very common. These conditions, plus, you know, being a homeless person, do not lend themselves just to pulling oneself up by bootstraps and finding a job. They need help.
While it’s easy for some to shrug off the morality of taking care of the homeless, one would hope that the fact that it’s actually more fiscally responsible to do so might change some minds. The study indicates that by housing the homeless, the state of Florida could save over $350 million in the next decade. I mean, this feels very much like a “two birds, one stone” situation to me. Everyone gets something! Liberals get the whole giving homeless people housing, health care and job training thing, and Conservatives get to save money. It’s like an Oprah Christmas Special! I think. I mean, I’m sure there are those out there who would prefer spending tons of money to housing the homeless purely out of spite, but I can’t imagine they’re a huge subset of the population.
To be fair, I cannot possibly understand how or why we just let people be homeless in the first place. It’s truly bizarre when you think about it, given how little it would cost to fix. Not to mention the kids. 33% of the homeless population in Chicago are children. We are actually just letting children be homeless. That’s awful! That’s just not a thing that should be happening in a civilized society. But hey, even if you have a different opinion than I do on this, I would think the cost-effectiveness of not letting people be homeless might appeal to you, at least.
Categories: Homeless No More!