Homeless program saves taxpayers money
June 8, 2012
A program to provide permanent housing to some of Los Angeles County’s most hard-core homeless more than paid for itself, yielding a net savings of $238,700. [LATimes]
Project 50 began in late 2007 with the goal of finding and housing the 50 most vulnerable, chronically homeless living on the streets of skid row in downtown Los Angeles. Since then, the number of participants has grown to 133.
The chronically homeless – those who are either physically disabled, mentally ill, mentally challenged, elderly or deep in the throes of alcoholism – have a high cost to counties because of medical, shelter and incarceration expenses.
Over a two year period, the program cost Los Angeles County $3.045 million but generated $3.284 million in estimated savings, the LA Times said.
Project 50 was controversial because it did not require people to get sober before they were housed. But advocates of the so-called housing-first approach say a permanent roof provides the stability chronically homeless people need to get their lives back on track, the LA Times said.
In San Luis Obispo County, the 10 year plan to eliminate homelessness focuses on those who are likely to become productive members of society and not on the chronically homeless. Instead of providing housing, which helps keep the mentally ill, felons and alcoholics off the streets, the program is focused on having homeless conform to strict regulations, including making program administrators payees of their government subsidy checks with the funds to be used later to pay for housing.
On June 1, the Prado Day Center, which provides services such as showers and lunches to the homeless, began barring those who sleep in their vehicles at night along Prado Road, many of whom are chronically homeless.
In Los Angeles County, project 50 was championed by Supervisor Yaroslavsky.
“My notion was that front-end investment in social services and stable housing would not only prove to be vastly more humane, but less costly for the public treasury,” Yaroslavsky said to the LA Times. “This audit makes the case for accelerating the county’s efforts to house the chronically homeless and provide them with the critical social services they need.”