It is cheaper to give homeless people a home than it is to leave them on the streets.
That’s not just the opinion of advocates working to end homelessness, nor is it the opinion of homeless people themselves. It is a fact that has been borne out by studies across the country, from Florida to Colorado and beyond.
The latest analysis to back up this fact comes out of Charlotte, where researchers from the University of North Carolina Charlotte examined a recently constructed apartment complex that was oriented towards homeless people.
Moore Place opened in 2012 with 85 units. Each resident is required to contribute 30 percent of his or her income, which includes any benefits like disability, veterans, or Social Security, toward rent. The rest of the housing costs, which total approximately $14,000 per person annually, are covered by a mix of local and federal government grants, as well as private donors.
In the first year alone, researchers found that Moore Place saved taxpayers $1.8 million. These savings comes from improvements in two primary areas: health care and incarceration.
Residents of Moore Place collectively visited the emergency room, an expensive but not uncommon way homeless people access health care, 447 fewer times in the year after getting housing, the study discovered. Similarly, they spent far less time running afoul of the law, with the number of arrests dropping 78 percent.
Though opponents worried that homeless people would cause problems in the subsidized apartments, only 15 tenants have gotten in trouble and been asked to leave Moore Place.
Due in large part to the complex’s success, the Charlotte City Council unanimously approved appropriating $1 million to Moore Place in order to expand to 120 units.