in Charlottesville, Virginia. These costs include more than the traditional home- less assistance programs offered; calculations also accounted for costs incurred from providing social services to the homeless, like hospital and ER visits.
TABLE 1 Cost of a Single Homeless Person in Charlottesville, VA over One Year, April 2011–March 2012 Source: Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless 70 nights in shelter $ 2,100.00 206 days at day shelter $ 2,266.00 350 soup kitchen meals $ 420.00 25 arrests $ 532.00 15 overnight jail stays $ 1,035.00 20 EMS calls $ 780.00 20 ER visits $ 7,000.00 2 hospital admissions $ 8,000.00
The $22,000 annual cost to the city government of a single homeless individ- ual demonstrates the incredible price communities pay to keep people on the streets. These numbers are higher in cities like New York, where the average cost of sheltering a single homeless adult in 2014 was $28,609; the figure is $37,047 for families. 17 These numbers do not include the costs of social services provided to address issues stemming from homelessness, such as arrests for vagrancy and hospital visits for exposure to the elements. Housing First It makes more sense for governments to provide quality affordable housing for homeless individuals and families than to continue paying for social services that are incurred because of homelessness. Permanent supportive housing ser- vices in NYC, for example, balanced the books by reducing usage of homeless shelters, ER visits, hospitals, and prisons. For about the same cost, the city was able to keep individuals off the streets and make social services more efficient. 18 Evidence also demonstrates that providing housing to the chronically homeless was far more cost-efficient to governments than traditional forms of assistance. 19 Beyond economics, governments have a strong incentive to keep individuals and communities safe and desirable by combatting homelessness. Research demon- strates that homeless adults report more psychological distress, such as depres- sion, which is exacerbated by chronic homelessness. 20 Communities suffer from high numbers of homeless individuals, who might detract from the perceived safety of communities and may contribute to neighborhood deterioration. Public policy attitudes towards homelessness have shifted in the past
16 Pay for Success & Affordable Housing | Stefano Rumi
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