Mental Health and Public Policy

*This blog is a part of the PH8001: Mental Health and Public Policy course at the University of Missouri.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Helping the homeless

The December 2009 issue of Monitor on Psychology published an article focusing on interventions that help individuals who are homeless. I find this topic to be fascinating, ever since I read Mitchell's Duneier's book, Sidewalk, about homeless (marginalized) individuals.

What I found most striking is the following paragraph:

"Other research suggests that helping mentally ill homeless people find permanent housing also helps society by lowering costs in the long run. A 2006 study by the Denver Housing First Collaborative found that the public cost of caring for Denver's homeless, which includes emergency care, shelter, detox programs and incarceration, was $43,239 per person annually. Moving those people into permanent homes reduced that figure to $11,694 annually, saving the city $31,545 per individual. That more than covers the $13,400-per-year it costs to house each individual. A similar 2006 report by Portland's Community Engagement Program found that providing housing to homeless people dropped public costs from $42,075 to $17,199 per person" (Price, 2009, p. 62).

Would local politicians and city officials be convinced by these statistics? It seems to me to be a no-brainer. However, given how our society stigmatizes homeless individuals, I wouldn't be surprised if some people would oppose such measures, because of the idea that such acts of kindness ultimately prevents these individuals from helping themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Every system has the potential to be gamed. Every act of kindness has the potential to lead to being taken advantage of- that's the truth.

    But the other side of that truth is that every system has the potential to work and make a positive difference for individuals and for society at large. Every act of kindness has the potential to make a positive difference-that's also the truth.

    Helping individuals that need it does not negate nor necessarily lead to those helped not being able to eventually help themselves.

    How many times has an act of kindness made a positive difference in your life (make you smile, relieve you of some burden) and at the same made you less motivated? Not!