UNM Study Shows it Costs Less to House the Homeless Than It Does to Keep Them on the Streets

The University of New Mexico Institute for Social Research (ISR) released a new study showing various economic benefits to housing the homeless population.

The study takes a look at the past and current economic impact of homelessness and shows how it actually costs much less to house the homeless than keep them unprotected on the streets.

“From an economic development standpoint, it is creating a cost savings for taxpayers,” said Breanna Anderson, communications director for the Heading Home Initiative, a program that is expanding resources to house chronically homeless people. “Since the study has proven that it’s almost 32% cheaper to house someone than it is to leave them on the streets.”

This study comes after Forbes released a statement saying that since the population growth continues to significantly rise, roughly 1.5 million new housing units will need to be build each year to accommodate everyone. The homeless, if cities adopt this new UNM recommendation, could soon be part of those plans.

According to the Daily Lobo, researchers spent roughly three years with 95 applicants alongside Heading Home. The plan was to find out exactly how much each participant cost through social and behavioral services before enrolling in the heading home program. The study concluded that for every one dollar spent, the program earned $1.78 in benefits.

“Participants consent to allow us to get information from the county jail, any hospitals, ambulance services, arrest data from APD, and the county sheriff and information from all the shelters that they could have been to,” said ISR Researcher Paul Guerin. “We can also get information from substance abuse treatment centers and really any other place we can think of that they might have been for services that cost money.”

Phys reports that the study determined, on average, that roughly $14,700 per person is saved for those enrolled in Heading Home’s program.

“This program saves money,” Guerin added. It costs less to keep someone housed than to keep them homeless. That should be sufficient information to inform local government that this works.”

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