Supportive housing data suggest win-win

RALEIGH, N.C. – Efforts to bring homeless people off the streets and into stable housing seems to benefit not only the recipients, but society as a whole, a new report says.

When provided housing coupled with assistance from case manager who helps them live independently, the cost to society of chronically homeless people drops, says a report by the Jordan Institute for Families at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study, focusing on a supportive-housing development in Southeast Raleigh, is the first of four to examine the cost-effectiveness of supportive housing in North Carolina communities.

The first report, which tracked the costs of serving 21 people two years before and after their move into the supportive housing complex, says overall costs for services fell 29 percent to $266,000 from $377,000, or 44 percent if the cost of an on-site case manager is excluded.

Costs related to in-patient treatment of substance abuse, which were almost $128,000 prior to supportive housing, fell to zero, and in-patient mental-health costs dropped to $4,000 from more than $85,000.

Costs related to incarceration disappeared altogether.

Medical treatment costs almost doubled, although that was due primarily to two individuals who began receiving treatment for chronic medical conditions.

The three additional studies will focus on supportive housing efforts in Buncombe, Guilford and Durham counties.

“These communities are recognizing that housing in and of itself has therapeutic value and when linked with supportive services it is the crucial component of ending homelessness among people with disabilities,” Martha Are, homeless policy coordinator for the state Department of Health and Human Services, says in a statement.

“Not only does it end homelessness, but it is fiscally responsible for the community,” she said.

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