For every 100 renter households in the U.S. who earn “extremely low income” (30 percent of the median or less), there are only 30 affordable apartments according to a 2013 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Multi-unit, dormitory-style public buildings can be very expensive to build. That’s why about 10 years ago communities began to explore building small villages comprised of small single units that will offer residents safe places to sleep with limited storage. Residents will have access to communal kitchens and restrooms.
Even at their most expensive, these villages do not come close to the cost of homelessness to taxpayers. In Denver, for example, a housing program for the homeless reduced the cost of public services (including medical services, temporary shelter, and costs associated with arrests and incarceration) by an estimated $15,773 per person per year.
In fact, providing permanent supportive housing makes good economic sense.
People who are homeless….
- Visit an emergency room an average of 5 times per year (at an estimated cost of $18,500 to $44,000)
- Spend an average of 3 nights in the hospital per visit
- Are more likely to be re-admitted (in Albuquerque the readmission rate is 30.1% for homeless individuals, about 19% higher than the national average)
Permanent supportive housing can reduce:
- Healthcare costs by 59%
- Emergency room costs by 61%
- Number of general inpatient hospitalizations by 77%
- Hospital inpatient costs by 55.9%
Sources: National Alliance to End Homelessness; National Low Income Housing Coalition; Daniel G. Garrett, “The Business Case for Ending Homelessness; Having a Home Improves Health, Reduces Healthcare Utilization and Costs” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046466; Green Doors. The Cost of Homelessness Facts. www.greendoors.org/facts/cost.php