Re: Housing homeless people far cheaper than hospitals & jails, banker says

Flower Child & Zephyr (nternet@c2i2.com)
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 22:16:23 -0700


Sounds like some good ideas and actions coming from Columbus,
Ohio.  Right on, folks!
       Thanks,  Flower Child

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net>
To: HPN@aspin.asu.edu <HPN@aspin.asu.edu>
Date: Thursday, November 19, 1998 3:49 PM
Subject: Housing homeless people far cheaper than hospitals &
jails, banker says


The article below cites statistics which indicate that
"supportive housing"
for long-term homeless people is much more cost-effective than
alternatives, such as mental hospitalization and jail.

http://www.amcity.com/columbus/stories/110998/editorial1.html
FWD  Business First [Greater Columbus Business Authority] Nov 9,
1998

[Columbus, Ohio, USA]

  TASK FORCE PLAN GIVES AREA'S HOMELESS STAKE IN CITY'S GROWTH

  Viewpoint: by Bill Bennett


The Scioto Peninsula Relocation Task Force recently unveiled a
comprehensive five-year proposal to provide long-term housing
solutions
that end the cycle of homelessness.

The plan is not about relocating a homeless shelter. It is about
rebuilding
lives. The plan is gaining widespread support and merits the
endorsement of
Central Ohio's business community.

Many of the costs of homelessness are visible, such as the
negative image
of people living on the streets and their human suffering. Yet
the real
costs of homelessness are those we don't see.

These include the hidden costs of an inadequate system for taking
care of
homeless men. We experience the impact of homelessness in the
loss of
potential workers and in the cost of emergency hospitalization,
jails and
substance-abuse treatment.

If your business is like ours, you create products and services
tailored to
the needs of your market. That's not what we're doing with our
homeless
service system. Instead, we use a "one size fits all" approach.

The task force's research showed that 85 percent of homeless men
use
shelters for short-term stays of less than a month, but 15
percent of men
stay in the system for as long as 500 days, using more than half
of all
shelter services.

What the task force discovered was that emergency shelters work
best for
the majority of homeless men who face a one-time catastrophic
event.

But these shelters don't work for men with chronic, long-term
problems who
need stable, specialized housing.

Meeting these individual needs is the key to ending the cycle of
homelessness. The changes recommended by the task force would
strengthen
the "safety net" of emergency shelters available to those who are
in a
sudden crisis. Other recommendations would provide specialized
housing
alternatives to better help those who have long-term needs.

The cornerstone of this housing strategy is the creation of
permanent,
affordable housing combined with counseling, job training and
services,
called "supportive housing." Approximately 800 housing units
would be
dispersed throughout Central Ohio. They would be designed to
provide
substance-abuse treatment, medical assistance, mental-health
services and
other support on-site.

Although this is a new direction for Columbus, it is not untried.
The task
force thoroughly researched and adopted the best practices around
our city
and nation. Here in Columbus, the Community Housing Network,
which provides
housing for people with severe mental illnesses, is an exemplary
local
program that works closely with service providers and nearby
residents.

Supportive housing is an approach that works. A national study
showed a 55
percent increase in employment for residents living in a
supportive housing
setting.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, low-income
people in
housing were able to get out of the hospital 36 percent more
quickly than
homeless people. Another study showed that a supportive housing
program
reduced mental health hospitalization by 75 percent and cut
incarceration
and arrest rates by more than 90 percent.

Supportive housing is cost-effective for Franklin County. The
daily cost
per bed for supportive housing for homeless men with long-term
needs is
projected to be $36, compared with $60 per bed for a minimum
security jail
cell and $482 for a state psychiatric hospital bed.

Supportive housing can even play a role in the business
community's No. 1
problem - the local labor shortage.

By linking men with job training and placement, supportive
housing prepares
men to rejoin the local work force. Most of our city's homeless
men want to
work and nearly three-fourths have at least a high school
education and
past work experience.

As these examples show, creating supportive housing will prove to
be
effective, break the cycle of homelessness and help people regain
their
sense of dignity and self-worth.

As business people, we weigh costs and benefits every day.
Two-thirds of
the cost for developing and operating supportive housing is
already in the
system and will be redirected, leaving $14 million to be raised
from a
variety of public and private sources.

That is a price well worth paying to improve our community.

This ambitious vision for a housing system in Central Ohio can
only be
achieved if the business community, political leadership and
public
agencies work collaboratively to make it happen. Development
along the
river has provided this community with a historic opportunity.
The business
community can play an important role in this endeavor to make
sure everyone
benefits from Columbus' growth.

Bill Bennett is vice chairman of Bank One, NA - Columbus, and is
a member
of the Scioto Peninsula Relocation Task Force.

END FORWARD
-
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this
material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational
purposes. **

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