Dealing with homelessness

In the USA an estimated 570,000 people are homeless on any one day and in Europe, the latest estimate is 4.1 million. The latest worldwide survey by the UN done in 2005 indicated that 100 million people were homeless, and Habitat estimated that l.6 billion lacked adequate housing. Progress is being made, but not fast enough for all those on the streets.

The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions.

The story of how Utah solved chronic homelessness begins in 2003. The number of chronic homeless had surged since the early 1970s. And related costs were soaring. In 2005, Utah had nearly 1,932 chronically homeless. By 2014, that number had dropped 72 percent to 539. Today, explained Gordon Walker, the director of the state Housing and Community Development Division, the state is “approaching a functional zero.” How Utah accomplished this didn’t require complex theorems or statistical models. For years, the thought of simply giving the homeless homes seemed absurd, constituting the height of government waste. But that’s exactly what Utah did. “If you want to end homelessness, you put people in housing,” Walker said in an interview. “This is relatively simple.” The state started setting up each chronically homeless person with his or her own house. Then it got them counseling to help with their demons. Such services, the thinking went, would afford them with safety and security that experts say is necessary to re-acclimate to modern life. Homelessness is stressful. It’s nearly impossible, most experts agree, to get off drugs or battle mental illness while undergoing such travails.  Walker says the state saves $8,000 per homeless person in annual expenses.

For the full story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/17/the-surprisingly...

In Finland, helping homeless people starts with giving them homes.

A recent report by the communities and local government committee on homelessness pointed out that the “housing first” model “appears to have had a positive impact in Finland”. The ... model is quite simple: when people are homeless, you give them housing. The idea stems from the belief that people who are homeless need a home, and other issues that may cause them to be at risk of homelessness can be addressed once they are in stable housing. Homeless people aren’t told they must conquer their addictions or secure a job before being given a home: instead it is accepted that having a home can make solving health and social problems much easier. Finland is the only European country where homelessness has decreased in recent years. At the end of 2015 the number of single homeless people was for the first time under 7,000 and this number includes people living temporarily with friends and relatives, who constitute 80% of all homeless people. This development is mainly due to a national programme to reduce long-term homelessness. The main explanation for this success is quite simple: when the national programme started housing first was adopted as a mainstream national homelessness policy. This costs money, but there is ample evidence from many countries that shows it is always more cost-effective to aim to end homelessness instead of simply trying to  manage it. Investment in ending homelessness always pays back, to say nothing of the human and ethical reasons.

For the full story:  https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/sep/14/lessons-from-finland...

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