[Hpn] Seattle saved $3.2 million by housing most difficult homeless

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Wed, 09 Jan 2008 21:18:02 -0500


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http://seattlepi.nwsource.com:80/local/6420ap_wa_seattle_homeless.html

January 9, 2008 =20
Seattle saved $3.2 million by housing most difficult homeless
By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

SEATTLE -- Emergency social and health programs are saving an estimated =
$3.2 million a year because about 160 of Seattle's homeless alcoholics =
and drug addicts have been taken off the street and put into supportive =
housing, two new studies show.

The statistics released Wednesday by Mayor Greg Nickels show two =
programs using the "housing first" model are making a difference in the =
lives of chronically homeless adults as well as saving money.

"Instead of letting people fall through the cracks, this program helps =
to stabilize and rebuild lives while taking a costly strain off our =
social safety net," Nickels said in a statement.

The "housing first" approach calls for putting homeless people in =
permanent homes with supportive services instead of requiring them to =
stop drinking and taking drugs to earn their shelter.

Taxpayer and privately donated money was used to build a $11.2 million =
building to house homeless alcoholics at the edge of downtown Seattle. =
The nonprofit Downtown Emergency Services Center spends about $11,000 =
per resident a year to operate the building, which opened at the end of =
2005.

The money saved from fewer emergency room visits, nights in jail and =
other social service interventions - more than $1.7 million - has not =
reached the total cost of the program, but preliminary results from a =
study by University of Washington researchers indicate it is making =
progress.

A 1999 King County study of 123 chronic public inebriates found they =
cost government and social-service agencies more than $100,000 per =
person per year in emergency room costs alone.

Since the apartment building opened, preliminary figures show visits to =
Harborview Medical Center by the 75 residents have decreased by a third. =
Interventions by paramedics has dropped by 20 percent, while bookings in =
the King County jail have been cut in half.

Seattle's homeless alcoholics do much of their sleeping at the Dutch =
Schisler Sobering Support Center, a nonprofit agency where police bring =
homeless alcoholics to dry out. The housing program has nearly =
eliminated use of that program by its 75 residents.

The second study looked at Plymouth Housing Group's building in downtown =
Seattle, which provides 87 apartments for homeless people, including 20 =
reserved for those needing the most assistance. All residents of the =
building that opened in June 2006 were chronically homeless and had =
disabling medical or psychiatric conditions.

For residents of the Plymouth project, medical costs have been cut by 75 =
percent or $1.5 million compared to the year before they moved in, =
mostly because of a dramatic decrease in their use of Harborview Medical =
Center, said researchers from the King County Mental Health and Chemical =
Abuse and Dependency Services Division.

The 20 people identified as needing the most assistance nearly =
eliminated their use of the sobering center during their first year in =
the building, but were booked into jail a few more times than in the =
past - from five bookings to seven in a year.

Since the opening of the two apartment buildings, two more "housing =
first" projects have opened their doors. The Downtown Emergency Service =
Center opened a building to house 75 severely mentally ill people. The =
Plymouth Group is opening a senior apartment building with 23 units =
reserved for homeless seniors who frequently use emergency services, and =
22 units for homeless veterans.

The city has helped pay for 215 "housing first" units in Seattle, the =
mayor said. Another 288 are under construction or planned to open by =
2011.

"With every new building, we take a big step toward ending homelessness =
in our community," Nickels said.



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<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420ap_wa_seattle_homeless.ht=
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l</A></FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV>January 9, 2008&nbsp;=20
<H1 class=3Drdheadline>Seattle saved $3.2 million by housing most =
difficult=20
homeless</H1>
<P class=3Drdbyline>By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP<BR>ASSOCIATED PRESS =
WRITER</P><!--BEGIN ARTICLE-->
<P>SEATTLE -- Emergency social and health programs are saving an =
estimated $3.2=20
million a year because about 160 of Seattle's homeless alcoholics and =
drug=20
addicts have been taken off the street and put into supportive housing, =
two new=20
studies show.</P>
<P>The statistics released Wednesday by Mayor Greg Nickels show two =
programs=20
using the "housing first" model are making a difference in the lives of=20
chronically homeless adults as well as saving money.</P>
<P>"Instead of letting people fall through the cracks, this program =
helps to=20
stabilize and rebuild lives while taking a costly strain off our social =
safety=20
net," Nickels said in a statement.</P>
<P>The "housing first" approach calls for putting homeless people in =
permanent=20
homes with supportive services instead of requiring them to stop =
drinking and=20
taking drugs to earn their shelter.</P>
<P>Taxpayer and privately donated money was used to build a $11.2 =
million=20
building to house homeless alcoholics at the edge of downtown Seattle. =
The=20
nonprofit Downtown Emergency Services Center spends about $11,000 per =
resident a=20
year to operate the building, which opened at the end of 2005.</P>
<P>The money saved from fewer emergency room visits, nights in jail and =
other=20
social service interventions - more than $1.7 million - has not reached =
the=20
total cost of the program, but preliminary results from a study by =
University of=20
Washington researchers indicate it is making progress.</P>
<P>A 1999 King County study of 123 chronic public inebriates found they =
cost=20
government and social-service agencies more than $100,000 per person per =
year in=20
emergency room costs alone.</P>
<P>Since the apartment building opened, preliminary figures show visits =
to=20
Harborview Medical Center by the 75 residents have decreased by a third. =

Interventions by paramedics has dropped by 20 percent, while bookings in =
the=20
King County jail have been cut in half.</P>
<P>Seattle's homeless alcoholics do much of their sleeping at the Dutch =
Schisler=20
Sobering Support Center, a nonprofit agency where police bring homeless=20
alcoholics to dry out. The housing program has nearly eliminated use of =
that=20
program by its 75 residents.</P>
<P>The second study looked at Plymouth Housing Group's building in =
downtown=20
Seattle, which provides 87 apartments for homeless people, including 20 =
reserved=20
for those needing the most assistance. All residents of the building =
that opened=20
in June 2006 were chronically homeless and had disabling medical or =
psychiatric=20
conditions.</P>
<P>For residents of the Plymouth project, medical costs have been cut by =
75=20
percent or $1.5 million compared to the year before they moved in, =
mostly=20
because of a dramatic decrease in their use of Harborview Medical =
Center, said=20
researchers from the King County Mental Health and Chemical Abuse and =
Dependency=20
Services Division.</P>
<P>The 20 people identified as needing the most assistance nearly =
eliminated=20
their use of the sobering center during their first year in the =
building, but=20
were booked into jail a few more times than in the past - from five =
bookings to=20
seven in a year.</P>
<P>Since the opening of the two apartment buildings, two more "housing =
first"=20
projects have opened their doors. The Downtown Emergency Service Center =
opened a=20
building to house 75 severely mentally ill people. The Plymouth Group is =
opening=20
a senior apartment building with 23 units reserved for homeless seniors =
who=20
frequently use emergency services, and 22 units for homeless =
veterans.</P>
<P>The city has helped pay for 215 "housing first" units in Seattle, the =
mayor=20
said. Another 288 are under construction or planned to open by 2011.</P>
<P>"With every new building, we take a big step toward ending =
homelessness in=20
our community," Nickels said.</P><!--END ARTICLE--></DIV></DIV>
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