Cumulative cost of services for homeless is staggering
It’s surprisingly expensive to be homeless: the State of Utah estimated the cumulative cost on emergency rooms, police departments and emergency shelters required just to maintain the status quo, totaled over $20,000 per year, per homeless person. By comparison, if you were to just give a homeless person the same amount in cash, their gross income would be almost double the federal poverty line.
Solution: Try giving them housing
It’s an idea so simple that only Comedy Central could do it justice. After weighing the numbers, Utah decided to start pulling people off the streets and into apartments. The annual cost to provide free housing to a homeless person in the state of Utah is roughly $12,000.
A common criticism of this approach (which was also lampooned in the Comedy Central clip) is that free housing creates a disincentive for people to work for themselves, and may actually increase homelessness. So far, many residents of the program have been able to find jobs and climb out of poverty. The program has saved the State of Utah millions of dollars, and Wyoming is looking to follow suit with a “housing first” approach of its own.
- Takepart.com | See Why ‘The Daily Show’ Couldn’t Find Any Homeless People in Utah
- New Yorker | Home Free?