Thursday, April 21, 2011

Penny wise and pound foolish? The cost of not helping the homeless

Click on the following link to see the original story, which is full of terrific links:

Morning Report: The Half-Million-Dollar Transients
April 21, 2011
by Randy Dotinga

Seven homeless people in the county annually cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars each. Another 16 transients cost $250,000 to $500,000 every year. Now, advocates are launching a program to help people like them find a place to live and stop requiring so much care.

"It's more expensive to ignore the problem than confront the problem," said the commissioner of the United Way's Plan to End Chronic Homelessness yesterday. The numbers are pretty amazing: Just seventeen of the transients "had an average of 16 ambulance rides, 17 emergency room visits and five inpatient medical stays a year," the NCT reports."The cost is estimated at $218,552."

So far, though, only a few homeless people have been helped. In part, that's because the transients in need aren't easy to find.

A 2006 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell tells a similar story of a homeless man who cost Nevada more than a million dollars. He spoke to NPR about it, too.

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