This interactive map identifies and provides details on Permanent Supportive Housing Cost Savings studies from across the country. This map graphs where the study was completed, provides bibliographical information, and the results of the study. Links to the studies are included.
Thomas Rebman is a middle school teacher and a veteran who has been traveling across the country to raise awareness about homelessness by living as a homeless person. You may have already read about him as he’s appeared in local news outlets several times during his tour. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to speak with him while he was living homeless in Skid Row, an area Los Angeles that is notorious for its high concentration of chronic homelessness.
Where are you right now and what’s it like there?
I’m about two blocks east of Skid Row on First. I’ve been on Skid Row for about four days. I came here to highlight mental illness among the homeless, because I knew there was a lot of it here. But I had no idea how much. Los Angeles really is a completely different animal than any other city I’ve visited. The amount of mental illness I’ve seen on Skid Row is shocking.
As communities are becoming more advanced in their efforts to end chronic homelessness they are taking steps to secure funding in systemic ways and from a variety of sources, including Medicaid.
Chronically homeless people make up just a small part of the overall homeless population (15 percent on a given night), but they are the hardest to help. All chronically homeless people struggle with serious physical or mental disabilities, including mental illnesses like schizophrenia and alcohol or drug addiction, that make obtaining and maintaining housing on their own extremely difficult.
Here at the Alliance, we like to say at homelessness should be rare, brief, and non-recurring. For many people who experience homelessness, this is true. But for 15 percent of the homeless population, the opposite is true: they experience homelessness repeatedly and/or for long periods of time, and they have a disability (such as serious mental illness, chronic substance use disorders, or chronic medical issues). These people are chronically homeless.
People experiencing chronic homelessness tend to be the most difficult to stably house and, as a result, are the most vulnerable people in the homeless population. Many communities, with the support of the federal government, have targeted interventions toward chronic homelessness in the past decade. Research shows that most effective intervention to end chronic homelessness is permanent supportive housing, which combines stable housing with supportive services.
Over the years, chronic homelessness in America has dropped significantly. Thanks to the hard work of housing agencies, and advocates in communities around the country, working with the support of federal policies, the number of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness has declined by 21 percent since 2010.
Even so, on a given night, more than 80,000 individuals experience chronic homelessness, which means they are disabled and have experienced homelessness either for a year or longer or at least four times in the last three years. Chronically homeless people make up less than 15 percent of the overall population on a given night, but they are the most vulnerable, and therefore the most in need of our help.
(It’s also cheaper to house them than let them remain homelessness, when you weigh the cost in social services against the cost of providing them with housing services.)
That’s why, back in 2010, the Obama administration set a goal for ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2016 in “Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.” That’s a year later than the date the administration set for ending veteran homelessness, and while we’re optimistic about ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 (and we’re not alone), ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2016 seemed increasingly unlikely.