June 7, 2012

Providing Housing for Homeless Saves Gov't Money

In my Inequality and Social Exclusion class in Ireland, we spent a good 2 weeks or so on homelessness, because, well, pretty much no one is more socially excluded than the homeless. Our assigned reading for those two weeks was pretty much every study on Irish homelessness policy published in the past five years. Seriously. Hundreds of pages. And since they were all different organizations discussing the same policies, it was hundreds of pages saying pretty much the exact same thing. That was one very long afternoon in the library.


Me: *raising hand during discussion of homelessness demographics in Ireland* In the States we have a big problem with high percentages of LGBT youth being homeless. Is that a problem here too?"
Professor: Well... ...The thing is, homelessness is such a huge problem in the States that it really can't be compared to the situation in Ireland.

He looked it up for the next class for me, but that was a day I skipped. Oops.

Anyway, I was suitably embarrassed (for skipping class, but mostly for the incomparably large nature of my country's homelessness problem). But today I found an American study that said EXACTLY THE SAME THING all those Irish studies I read said, and I got excited. The gist of it is, if you get homeless people into housing, like real housing, not overnight or temporary shelters, you save money and more effectively address the causes of homelessness.

Of course, in Ireland, this is becoming the strategy for dealing with homelessness in the entire country. In LA, where the study was conducted, the homeless population is 51,000 people, and the program in question was for 50 people. But still, I was happy to see that they're at least trying it.

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