Why Permanent Supportive Housing Makes Financial Sense

Over the past few months, we've been talking about permanent supportive housing as the solution to ending chronic homelessness.

Over the next few months, we'd like to begin exploring WHY we believe permanent supportive housing is the solution.

There are four specific reasons we'll be highlighting:
  • permanent supportive housing is cost effective,
  •  permanent supportive housing improves heath outcomes for chronically homeless individuals,
  • permanent supportive housing provides individuals with the tools they need to get their lives back, and
  • permanent supportive housing is effective at keeping people housed (DC has the highest retention rate in the country).

Today, we'll be focusing on the cost-effectiveness of permanent supportive housing.

Research has shown that providing permanent housing with individualized support services to chronically homeless individuals is no more costly, and in some cases, less costly than traditional interventions like emergency shelter.

Many of the cost savings are realized in the public services that are no longer, or less, needed. These services include emergency room visits, in-patient mental health care, and jail, among others.

In Los Angeles County, public costs were reduced by 79 percent for chronically homeless individuals in permanent supportive housing. And in New York City, each unit of permanent supportive housing saved $16,282 per year in public costs for shelter, health care, mental health and criminal justice.

While formal, long-range studies have not yet been completed in DC, the anecdotal evidence supporting the cost-effectiveness of permanent supportive housing is encouraging.

One of our guests used to be in crisis every time he came to Miriam's Kitchen for breakfast--usually either coming directly from the emergency room or needing our help to get to a psychiatric hospital because he was suicidal. Now that's he's housed through permanent supportive housing, he's usually stopping by to tell us he's doing well. That's just one example of the cost savings we've seen among our guests at Miriam's Kitchen.

--Adam Rocap, Director of Social Services

To read more about the cost-effectiveness of permanent supportive housing, we recommend reading the Corporation for Supportive Housing's FAQ's about Supportive Housing Research: Is Supportive Housing Cost Effective? (a report we pulled our data from for this update) or using the interactive cost-savings chart from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.