Giving money to the homeless might actually workA charity selected 15 homeless people, asked them what they needed to change their lives -- and then bought it for them.
Of the 13 who agreed to take part, 11 are now off the streets. Several have entered treatment for addiction and mental health issues, some have reconnected with their families, and all are exhibiting an enhanced ability to function independently in society (such as paying bills, signing up for welfare, and turning up for training courses).
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a UK-based nonprofit, selected 15* homeless people that outreach workers had found the hardest to reach (one had been on the streets for an astonishing 45 years), asked them what they needed to change their lives -- and then bought it for them.
One asked for sneakers and a prepaid cell phone, one needed cash to pay off a loan, one wanted a TV and a comfy chair (to make the move into hostel accommodation more attractive), and one requested a camper van. Each of them received the money to purchase exactly what they asked for, with the condition that they also had to choose a personal "broker" who would help them write a budget.
The upfront expense of a budget and the cost of providing personalized one-on-one "broker" support are easily outweighed by the amount the taxpayer will spend over time on police, prison, and medical bills.
Read the CNN report here.
* Two refused to engage with the pilot project altogether.