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The latest evidence to support this idea comes by way of Los Angeles County, where researchers just finished an evaluation of Project 50, a years-long initiative to house members of L.A.'s chronic homeless population.
The program cost $3.045 million to implement, according to the Los Angeles Times, but resulted in $3.284 million in savings by means of lowering incarceration and medical costs for the people who participated. That's a net gain of $238,700, according to the LAT. Plus, 94 formerly homeless people, three-quarters of all those who participated, now have a place to live.
It's far from the first time researchers have found evidence that widespread social problems put a heavy cost on taxpayers -- and that offering assistance to society's most vulnerable members can have economic as well as humanitarian benefits.
A 2009 study from the University of Southern California examined the cases of four homeless people who were put in permanent supportive housing -- and found that for each person, the cost of public services fell by more than $20,000 for each year they spent in a stable residence.
And an outreach program in Seattle, which found housing for 95 homeless people with alcoholism, found that the group had combined costs of more than $8 million before the program began -- including costs of incarceration, shelter use, and medical and detoxification services -- but combined costs of only $4 million after the program had been underway for a year.
Source: Huffington Post | Alexander Eichler