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.