Did you know that it costs more money for many people to remain homeless than it does to place them in permanent supportive housing?

It’s true! Due to the likelihood of homeless individuals cycling through emergency health care, shelters, and the criminal justice system, we can actually save 40% more taxpayer dollars by investing in ending the cycle of homelessness for some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

The solution to ending homelessness is very simple: help individuals who are experiencing homelessness find permanent homes.

Community Solutions, a national leader in ending both veteran and chronic homelessness, has seen its Built for Zero initiative help entire communities change by doing just that.

Eight communities that partnered with Community Solutions have ended veteran homelessness and three have eradicated chronic homelessness in their communities.

These communities prove that ending veteran and chronic homelessness is not a hopeless cause. It’s possible. Not only is it possible – it’s happening. They’re all getting results by working together with local agencies to simplify the process and help people find permanent housing more quickly.

What Is Permanent Supportive Housing?

Permanent supportive housing is as simple as it sounds. Rather than shelters, which have restrictions on how long a person can stay, it’s permanent housing paired with services that provide help and support to someone coming out of homelessness. Not all people who experience homelessness need this intensive level of support, but for many, it’s a vital and cost-effective solution.

Services in permanent supportive housing may include case management, employment services, mental and physical health care, and other treatments.

How Does Permanent Supportive Housing Save Money?

Although the solution to ending chronic and veteran homelessness may be simple, there’s a general misconception about the cost and practicality of permanent supportive housing models.

The truth is, multiple studies have been conducted across the country, and they all find the same conclusion. For people experiencing the worst forms of homelessness, it costs significantly less money to employ permanent supportive housing models and solve the problem than it does to let people remain homeless.

In 2006, Providence College in Rhode Island conducted a study that calculated the annual cost of chronic homelessness to be $31,617 per person. It also showed that placing those individuals in permanent supportive housing would cost $22,779 per year. That comes out to $8,839 less per person, by investing in the solution to end the problem.

More recently, a 2014 study found that it only costs $10,051 per person, per year to provide permanent supportive housing in central Florida. That’s one third the cost of leaving someone homeless in the same area.

Piquette Square: A Model for Permanent Supportive Housing

One example of how permanent supportive housing can impact individuals and their community is Piquette Square in Detroit. Piquette Square is a 150-unit apartment complex designed to house and support veterans who have experienced homelessness.

The project welcomed its first residents in the summer of 2010. Piquette Square was developed by the Detroit-based nonprofit Southwest Solutions, which also owns and manages the building.

Piquette Square offers veterans:

These supportive measures (along with others) help these veterans develop independent living skills that can help ensure they never return to homelessness.

Marcus Cobb, a U.S. Army veteran, is one of the residents living at Piquette Square. “I was on the streets and homeless for at least 16 years, on and off,” says Cobb.

After serving his country, he was living on the street, battling alcoholism, and finding it hard to hold down a job. Cobb explains, “If I found a job, I would maybe go stay with someone or get an apartment. Then when I got tired of paying for it and didn’t want to be bothered, I ended up back on the streets. It was due to alcohol.”

By focusing on providing permanent housing first, places like Piquette Square can provide stability for people, allowing them to make long-term changes.

Cobb says living at Piquette Square and getting the help he needed has made him feel successful – like he made it. “I made the transition from being an alcoholic to [recovery]. And there’s not a lot of people that can do that,” says Cobb.

Piquette Square gives Cobb and many in similar situations a home, stability, and the help they need to change their lives.

Related Resources

VA Homeless Programs
Non-medical Counseling – Military OneSource
Psychological Health Program – Army Reserve
Dependency & Addiction Among Seniors
Jobs and Training for Veterans
Department of Defense Education Programs
Free IT Training & Certification

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