Supportive Housing Saves Money -and Benefits Our Communities!
It costs essentially the same amount of money to house someone in stable, supportive housing as it does to keep that person homeless and stuck in the revolving door of high-cost crisis care and emergency housing. CSH’s cost studies prove that we can either waste money keeping people homeless or spend those dollars on a long-term solution that produces positive results for people and their communities.
The most comprehensive case for supportive housing is made by a recently released study from the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research. Researchers tracked the cost of nearly 5,000 mentally ill people in New York City for two years while they were homeless and for two years after they were housed. They concluded:
Supportive and transitional housing created an average annual savings of $16,282 by reducing the use of public services: 72% of savings resulted from a decline in the use of public health services; 23% from a decline in shelter use; and 5% from reduced incarceration of the homeless mentally ill.
This reduction in hospitalizations, incarcerations, and shelter costs nearly covered the cost of developing, operating and providing services in supportive housing. After deducting the public benefits, the average NY/NY supportive housing unit cost only $995 per year.
In other words, based on the most conservative assumptions -without taking into account the positive impacts on health status and employment status, or improvements to neighborhoods and communities -it costs little more to permanently house and support people than it does to leave them homeless.
Further evidence shows that supportive housing provides public benefits beyond these savings. An analysis of the Connecticut Supportive Housing Demonstration Program found that supportive housing improved neighborhood safety and beautification, increasing or stabilizing property values in most communities. Years of experience confirm that neighbors embrace supportive housing as an asset to their communities.
"Anytime you put $1.2 million into a development in the middle of a neighborhood, along with social services, a well-kept, nice building on the outside, it is a major asset to the neighborhood. I have toured the facility and was impressed. It was a well-conceived and well-executed Lproject." (from a survey of neighbors and business owners, published in the Connecticut Supportive Housing Demonstration Program Evaluation Report, October 1999)
For more information visit: http://www.csh.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageID=345
+ Compare the costs of supportive housing and homelessness in nine cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Columbus (OH), Seattle, and Phoenix http://documents.csh.org/documents/ke/csh_lewin2004.PDF
+ Several draft research reports have found that supportive housing reduces the use of high cost public care services such as inpatient and emergency hospital care, jail and substance use treatment programs
+ The Fannie Mae Foundation’s Housing Policy Debate has published the University of Pennsylvania's supportive housing cost study, illustrating the public service cost savings associated with the placement of homeless persons with severe mental illness in NY/NY supportive housing. The report is available through Fannie Mae’s KnowledgePlex or CSH