As if being homeless wasn’t bad enough (understatement), treating homeless people as criminals costs about three times as much as “providing supportive housing”.
“Research shows it costs taxpayers $31,065 a year to criminalize a single person experiencing homelessness while the yearly cost for providing supportive housing is $10,051.” – Urban Institute
Homelessness continues to rise, or rephrase that. Homelessness is a correct term, but the reality is that it is about people. The number of people in the US who don’t have shelter increased by about 20% between 2016 and 2020.
Treating such people as criminals costs governments in terms of diverting police to deal with them, closing encampments, and generally managing the negative consequences.
Sheltering the people who don’t have shelter can be cheaper and enables them to improve their lives. Seattle saw a drop in Emergency Room and medication costs because people had an address and could lock up their medications. That is impossible for people living under a bridge. An address can mean a job. A lockable door can mean things like clothes can last longer. Mental health can improve.
The local economy benefits by directing funds to positive rather than negative action.
Despite the benefits, NIMBYs, development costs, and enough miscreants causing trouble make it difficult to enact. Reactions to the negatives are things that can be seen: police actions, etc. The positive actions are innocuous because they can look so normal that they don’t attract attention.
Homelessness is rising. The problem isn’t going away, even as the solution is closer than many think.