California Governments Can Save Money By Housing the Sick and Homeless

Most Californians have a few ideas on how the government can save money. For example, there are plenty of people who want to cut funding to public schools. There are also folks who would love to stop giving the film industry generous tax breaks.

Depending on your beliefs, the ideas above are either great or terrible. However, did you know a study was just released outlining how at least one idea in a California county can save money? It's a study from L.A. County, and the researchers found money could be saved by housing sick homeless people.

Rand Corp. ran the study for a total of three years. During that time, researchers learned that housing homeless people who were sick saved taxpayers on costly emergency room visits. Now, some people might question the costs associated with housing a bunch of homeless people who are sick. It would stand to reason that housing homeless people isn't free, and housing sick homeless people would be even more expensive.

Thankfully, the researchers crunched the numbers for this. They discovered that for every dollar invested in programs dedicated to housing sick homeless people, the state ultimately saved $1.20 in costly medical bills. This even factored in the costs of treating the homeless who had acute discomforts and illnesses.

Sarah Hunter, a senior behavioral scientist and lead author of the study, said,
“Oftentimes, these programs strive to ‘break even’ in terms of costs and only exhibit cost savings among the most vulnerable, while the Los Angeles program shows considerable savings across a diverse population." In other words, this program didn't just allow the state to save money by chance. Rather, it produced predictable results that could very well be replicated elsewhere in California and other urban areas with large homeless populations.

The program was even successful at solving the larger problem of homelessness. For example, over 3,400 homeless people have since moved into apartments and housing projects over the last five years. This means that participants were able to be healed and find a new home. This seems far better than running up a huge hospital bill to be paid by the state before returning a person back to live on the streets.

Using a health and housing first perspective, this new study provides hope for both the homeless and the cities that struggle with what do with them. Let us know your thoughts about the study below!


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