A new study conducted by the University of North Carolina Charlotte shows that providing housing first reduces the overall cost of homelessness.
The study used Moore Place, a Charlotte apartment complex that serves as home to 85 chronically homeless adults, as its subject. In its first year, Moore Place tenants saved $1.8M in health care costs, with 447 fewer emergency room visits.
Sixty-two-year-old Moore Place tenant Carl Caldwell says he used to go to the emergency room over five times a week just so he’d have a place to sleep. “You wouldn’t believe my hospital bills,” he tells the Huffington Post. Caldwell worked as a teacher for three decades until he lost his job and became homeless five years ago.
It wasn’t until after Caldwell lost his home and job that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. But thanks to Moore Place, Caldwell has gained a regular doctor and undergone radiation, and his cancer is now in remission.
“Moore Place saved my life,” Caldwell says.
The tenants also spent 84 percent fewer days in jail from homelessness crimes such as trespassing, loitering, public urination, begging, and public drunkenness.
While sobriety is a prerequisite for other homeless housing facilities, Moore Place operates off of the notion that individuals can better deal with addiction, employment, and physical or mental health once they have a place to live.
However, tenants must contribute 30 percent of their income, which is likely to come from disability, veterans, or social security benefits, towards rent. The remaining $14K in housing costs are paid from private and church donations and local and federal government funding.