Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We all pay for homelessness

Homelessness costs everyone, even if there's no specific tax or line-item to cover it.

We pay for it in higher insurance rates when hospitals treat people who wait until they're really, really sick to get help in the emergency room.

We pay for it when we fund the jail, and when tourists feel threatened by men and women hanging around businesses and don't stop to shop.

We pay for it when children who sleep on couches and don't eat right do poorly in school. We pay for it when their parents don't have a job and don't pay taxes.

But it is possible to put a price tag on some of the costs.

In 2008, a collaboration of government agencies and nonprofits picked 12 chronically homeless men and women living in Fort Collins, Colorado, and got them housing, mental health and substance abuse help. During the course of the year, emergency room costs for those 12 people dropped from $90,000 to $48,000, and jail costs went from almost $40,000 to $15,912.

"All of these costs drop dramatically when people get into a home," said Bryce Hach, executive director of Homeward 2020. "It just gets better and better and better, instead of the reactionary deployment of services."

Read the Coloradoan report here.


At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Arlen said...

Pretty effective data, thanks so much for your article.
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