The latest is a Central Florida Commission on Homelessness study indicating that the region spends $31,000 a year per homeless person on “the salaries of law-enforcement officers to arrest and transport homeless individuals — largely for nonviolent offenses such as trespassing, public intoxication or sleeping in parks — as well as the cost of jail stays, emergency-room visits and hospitalization for medical and psychiatric issues. By contrast, getting each homeless person a house and a caseworker to supervise their needs would cost about $10,000 per person.
This is just one more example of many from communities across the country showing that the humane and fiscally responsible responses to our neighbors with complex needs are the same; provide housing first.
Here in Kansas City, just this week we’re implementing a new way of prioritizing our veterans and chronically homeless neighbors for our available housing units and vouchers. We’re also working with the VA Medical Center to identify first and second housing options for about fifty veterans we hope to house quickly.
Step-by-step, we’re building a robust housing system that helps us know our neighbors in housing crisis by name and offer them housing choices matched to their level of need. It’s agonizingly slow sometimes, but it’s exciting, too. What are you doing to help? How can we support you in your efforts?