Ending Chronic Homelessness in 2017
On any given night, we know that nearly 85,000 Americans with disabling health conditions who have experienced homelessness for long periods of time—some for years or decades—can be found sleeping on our streets, in shelters, or other places not meant for human habitation. These men and women experiencing chronic homelessness commonly have a combination of mental health problems, substance use disorders, and medical conditions that worsen over time and too often lead to an early death.
Without connections to the right types of care, people who are experiencing chronic homelessness cycle in and out of hospital emergency departments and inpatient beds, detox programs, jails, prisons, and psychiatric institutions—all at high public expense. Some studies have found that leaving a person to remain chronically homeless costs taxpayers as much as $30,000 to $50,000 per year.
Fortunately, there is a proven solution to chronic homelessness: supportive housing. Supportive housing has been shown to help people permanently stay out of homelessness, improve health conditions, and, by reducing their use of crisis services, lower public costs. In fact, numerous studies have shown that it is cheaper to provide people experiencing chronic homelessness with supportive housing than to have them remain homeless.
Ending chronic homelessness in 2017 is not only the fiscally responsible thing to do, it is the right thing to do. To learn more, read USICH’s recently released fact sheet Ending Chronic Homelessness in 2017: No one with a disability should have to experience long-term homelessness.
Lindsay Knotts is Policy Advisor at USICH, where she is responsible for coordinating federal policy efforts for the Council.