Financial Implications of Public Interventions on Behalf of a Chronically Homeless Family
This report is a supplement to The Supportive Housing Continuum: A Model for Housing Homeless Families, published by the Family Housing Fund in January 2000. That report describes a model of supportive housing, which combines affordable long-term housing with supportive services designed to help families resolve the root causes of their homelessness.
The Supportive Housing Continuum report includes a case study of “Lynn” and her three children, a chronically homeless family with multiple, severe problems that make it difficult for them to maintain stable housing. The report discusses Lynn’s troubled childhood and then traces two possible scenarios for the family: that it remains homeless and dependent upon emergency services, or that it moves into supportive housing. The report finds that in addition to helping Lynn and her children lead more stable and fulfilling lives, the supportive housing option incurs a far lower public cost than the myriad of expensive public interventions, such as emergency medical care, foster care, inpatient substance abuse treatment, and incarceration, that often occur repeatedly in the lives of chronically homeless families. While there are increased costs associated with housing, chemical dependency treatment/support and mental health services, there are decreased costs associated with out-of-home placement, criminal justice and emergency medical interventions. Supportive housing provides a stable community that ensures consistent, coordinated, and preventative services.
This report recounts Lynn’s story and provides a more detailed cost breakdown for those readers interested in learning more about how the public costs were estimated. The report traces Lynn’s story through age 18 and summarizes the public costs generated by the family during that time. It then outlines the two possible scenarios for the next nine years in the lives of Lynn and her children and compares the public costs incurred by the family under each scenario. Finally, the report lists the individual cost items and data sources for each category of expense. (Author)
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