Should we give the homeless free housing? | The Tylt
Should we give the homeless free housing?
A study found that people struggling with homelessness, on average, use the emergency room five times a year. Each visit costs around $3,700. When given housing, health care costs drop dramatically.
Health care costs are reduced by 59 percent
Emergency room costs are decreased by 61 percent
General inpatient hospitalizations are decreased by 77 percent
But we shouldn't be giving homeless housing because it would cost taxpayers less money. We should be giving homeless people housing because it's the right thing to do. Housing first programs have a track record of working. It's obvious the current strategies used to stop homelessness are ineffective. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Point in Time Count, around 549,928 people were homeless in 2016.
Utah was able to reduce its homeless population by 74 percent since implementing a housing-first policy when dealing with homelessness.
Critics say housing-first programs paper over the realities that lead people to homelessness. There simply isn't enough housing to go around. California imposed a moratorium on spending for low-income housing because it just costs too much to build. Utah, a state celebrated for "solving" its homelessness problem, is seeing low-income housing shortages that threaten the viability of its housing-first program altogether.
Without solving the housing crisis, states will continue to see a steady stream of people who will experience chronic homelessness. At best, housing-first is a band-aid solution, which only works to help long-term disabled homeless people. But it's not a solution that will work for all homeless people—there simply isn't enough money or homes to go around.
It's not enough to give someone a home—people need deeper support than just that.