You may have heard that it costs more to have a person live on the streets than it does to house them. It’s a weird concept and for a moment you feel like someone is pulling your leg or doing Reaganomics. I mean, you know how much it costs to be housed.
Rent+utilities+gardener+repairmen = a whole lot of money.
How can that cost less than living on the streets?
Well, UWGLA has broken it down into 4 pages http://www.unitedwayla.org/getinformed/news/Documents/HomelessCostStudy_09_r2_v3.pdf
but I will give you the quick and dirty break down.
No, you don’t pay rent for the people on the streets – or do you?
Tax dollars and private donors pay the rent and mortgage on the shelters, jail, and residential treatment centers. You also pay for the utilities there and for the maintenance staff, counselors, administrators and cooks. Unless you live with a full staff including a butler – living in a shelter, program or jail is much more expensive. And – even if you are not currently or constantly a resident there – these services must remain open and available to you while there is a need for them.
Living rough is not terribly sanitary and illnesses are common. There is nowhere to hide from other people who are coughing and sneezing on you. When I went through TB training I learned that each of the Downtown LA Hospitals had a greater rate of tuberculosis than national average. Just two weeks ago I walked through skid row and watched people fall over and cut themselves, have violent reactions to laced drugs, suffer heat stroke, and vomit on the sidewalks with the flu. When these ill people need a ride to the hospital you are paying the Fire Dept, paramedics, and hospital staff – not to mention the cost of the ambulance ride. (Literally, it cost me $200 once to go around the corner to the hospital – extra because the sirens were on ).