Tag Archives: health care

Kansas Housing Cost/Benefit Analysis Released by Kim Wilson Housing

Kim Wilson Housing recently published the results of a months-long research effort into the costs of various housing and other interventions in Kansas.  Broadly, I think its results match those of similar studies done previously nationwide, and reinforce the excellent cost/benefit value of permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing.

Read the report for yourself right here: Cost Benefit Analysis for KS 2014-final

My thoughts:

  • Keeping Kansans homeless is very expensive!  A person experiencing homelessness in Kansas accesses about $153.00 of services – including ambulance and ER services, encounters with police, emergency shelter, etc. – per day.  In contrast, permanent supportive housing (which decreases uses of these other services drastically) costs about $29 per day for scattered-site projects (i.e. rent vouchers and wrap-around services).  Budget-minded taxpayers ought to favor increasing permanent supportive housing, it seems to me!
  • The cost of an ambulance ride plus an emergency room visit is roughly equal to that of providing 61 days of permanent supportive housing in a scattered site project.  ER “frequent fliers” can access the ER several times per month; identifying and housing these folks drastically improve their health, along with saving money!

The way we do things now results in huge, mostly hidden, costs to all of us for emergency health, police, and housing services.  There are better ways that, together, communities across the country are working toward.  They have to make sense locally, but they all include improved data systems, collection, and reporting, re-allocation of resources toward permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing, and housing first-style priorities (i.e. our system does not prolong someone’s homelessness due to addiction, lack of “job readiness,” criminal record, etc.).

If you had a housing crisis tonight, which system would you want to encounter?  The one we have now?  Or the one we’re building?

Ending Homelessness in Utah by Housing People

Following up on my previous post about the million dollars spent not housing Murray, here’s an article on what Utah is doing to end homelessness.  One key finding:

In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached.

We have every reason to believe these findings hold true nation-wide.  For example, locally in Kansas City, ReDiscover’s hospital diversion program has saved approximately $13.7 million in medical costs with an $800,000 up-front investment in just 18 months.  The state of Missouri is implementing it state-wide, and it’s easy to understand why, whether your motivation is helping people, saving money, or both.

Are these articles true to your experience?  And if so, what data would help your community move toward ending homelessness by housing people first?

More work to do

We took our youngest to urgent care over the weekend. It was Super Bowl Sunday. Her fever wouldn’t come down. After hearing her symptoms, the nurse told me we should really get her in, if at all possible. It was barely a second thought for me. I almost didn’t cringe at the thought of potentially meeting our high deductible so early in the year. We have health insurance.

Then, my husband and I both missed work days this week to stay home with her. That wasn’t a second thought at all. That was shuffling meetings, getting some work done while she napped. I have sick time; he has dependent leave.

Then, on what surely must have been the coldest night in Kansas City history, our furnace stopped blowing. That was a call to the service company, finding out they weren’t doing any house calls until the following day, and then a free visit from our neighbor who, fortunately for us, is a HVAC genius. We have social supports.

I get phone calls on a regular basis from people, who, if any of the above things had happened, would send their world into a tailspin. People who are desperately trying to figure out who can help them keep their utilities on. People who have no idea where they’re going to sleep tomorrow night after their time at the emergency shelter is officially up. People who are working hard but still falling behind.

I am keenly aware of how fortunate my family is to have health insurance. We’re not going to have to skip meals or figure out which utility bill can go without being paid because we took Mary to urgent care. We are lucky to have jobs with benefits. Neither of us went without pay or got fired because we chose to take care of a sick baby instead of report to the office. We are thankful to have supports all around us: family, friends, and in this case, a neighbor.

I would like my girls to know a society in which we don’t think of poverty as a character failing or a lack of motivation, but rather, a shortage of money. I would like them to take it for granted that anyone who works can make a living wage. I want them to be bewildered when we try to explain homelessness to them. Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty. We have some more work to do.