Did you know it’s actually less expensive to house a homeless person than to leave that person on the streets?

Posted: May 6, 2013 by thehomelesspage in Original Stories, Policy, Research, Uncategorized


Photo by Heather Curtis – Each key is to to an apartment a formerly homeless person received through the housing first program via Bethesda Cares

By Heather Curtis

The following data is from a study by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness:

Cost to admit a homeless person to the hospital for one day = $1940

Cost for a day of emergency room care = $905

Cost for an ambulance = $527

Cost to keep a homeless person in a shelter = $28 a day

Cost to keep someone in jail = $87 per day

Cost of finding permanent supportive housing for a homeless person = $31 a day

“It’s a simple and clear choice: invest in endlessly managing homelessness, which is incredibly costly, or invest in what works to end homelessness, which ism, more cost effective.” – John Mendez, homeless outreach specialist at Bethesda Cares, an organization that address the problem of homelessness

Housing first is a program that finds permanent support housing for the homeless.

“Housing first is a cost-effective, wise economic choice.” – Brian Carome, executive director at Street Sense, a bi-weekly D.C.-based newspaper written by the homeless under the guidance of professional writers

So if housing first is cost-effective, then why isn’t the approach being used on a widespread scale?

“Not everyone thinks the Housing First model is the way to go,” said Carome. “There’s not enough funding to keep pace with, or to alleviate the homelessness of everyone who’s experiencing it now.”


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