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Housing a Homeless Person Costs $21,000 Less Than Doing Nothing

Housing a Homeless Person Costs $21,000 Less Than Doing Nothing

Written by Scott Keyes

Even if you don’t think society has a moral obligation to care for the least among us, a new study underscores that we have a financial obligation to do so.

Late last week, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness released a new study showing that, when accounting for a variety of public expenses, Florida residents pay $31,065 per chronically homeless person every year they live on the streets.

The study, conducted by Creative Housing Solutions, an Oklahoma-based consultant group, tracked public expenses accrued by 107 chronically homeless individuals in central Florida. These ranged from criminalization and incarceration costs to medical treatment and emergency room intakes that the patient was unable to afford.

Andrae Bailey, CEO of the commission that released the study, noted to the Orlando Sentinel that most chronically homeless people have a physical or mental disability, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. “These are not people who are just going to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job,” he said. “They’re never going to get off the streets on their own.”

The most recent count found 1,577 chronically homeless individuals living in three central Florida counties — Osceola, Seminole and Orange, which includes Orlando. As a result, the region is paying nearly $50 million annually to let homeless people languish on the streets.

There is a far cheaper option though: giving homeless people housing and supportive services. The study found that it would cost taxpayers just $10,051 per homeless person to give them a permanent place to live and services like job training and health care. That figure is 68 percent less than the public currently spends by allowing homeless people to remain on the streets. If central Florida took the permanent supportive housing approach, it could save $350 million over the next decade.

This is just the latest study showing how fiscally irresponsible it is for society to allow homelessness to continue. A study in Charlotte earlier this year found a new apartment complex oriented towards homeless people saved taxpayers $1.8 million in the first year alone. Similarly, the Centennial State will save millions by giving homeless people in southeast Colorado a place to live. And in Osceola County, Fla., researchers earlier this year found that taxpayers had spent $5,081,680 over the past decade in incarceration expenses to repeatedly jail just 37 chronically homeless people.

This post originally appeared on ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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94 comments

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4:39AM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.

Confucius"

5:24AM PDT on Jun 6, 2014

Compassion & common sense.

1:38AM PDT on Jun 6, 2014

noted

11:16AM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

then lets do it

8:10AM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

Human beings aren't meant to live in the filthy streets. I'm with Brent B. having a safe warm home is a basic human right. Where are all the pro-lifer's for the homeless? They only care about you before you're born but don't give a damn about what happens to you once your head crowns; no better than a neglectful parent. There is no excuse to allow human beings to live on the streets. It says alot about where our priorities are.

7:49AM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

So often doing the moral thing is also the cheapest in the long run. It's only our 15 minute television show-to-commercial break attention span that keeps us from figuring that out. Love this report.

6:43AM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

ty

10:17PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Very interesting thanks

8:04PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

TYFS

3:46PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Thanks for the article!

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