Should we give the homeless free permanent housing? | The Tylt
Should we give the homeless free permanent housing?
A study found that people struggling with homelessness on average use the emergency room five time a year. Each visit costs around $3,700. When given housing, health costs drop dramatically.
Health care costs are reduced by 59%.
Emergency room costs are decreased by 61%.
General inpatient hospitalizations are decreased by 77%.
Housing-first works on the assumption that if you give a homeless person permanent housing, that solves their most immediate problem. From there, agencies can help the person with other issues like mental health and substance abuse.
Some argue that a housing-first policy doesn't address the underlying issues that cause homelessness. It's not enough to give someone housing, but they need to be helped so they're never homeless again. It's a one-size-fits-all solution for an extremely nuanced and complicated problem. Instead, there should be multiple tiers.
Nunez recommended a three-tiered solution. He said “of course Housing First,” for families and individuals who just need housing. But there also needs to be a Housing Second option for folks who need education or other job training and placement assistance. Lastly, there needs to be a Housing Third option for individuals and families with problems that compound their job and/or housing situation. Those requiring the Housing Third model often have other complicated challenges including substance abuse, generational poverty, and mental or physical illness.
Housing-first seems like a good idea until you get to places like San Francisco and New York, where there are housing shortages. Unable to find home and apartments, cities end up buying or renting motels to house the homeless, which often end up as slums.