According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s most recent data, there were more than 51,000 homeless individuals in Los Angeles county, which has one of the highest homeless populations in the country. But it turns out that programs to provide housing for these unlucky individuals actually helps LA save money.
A study conducted by a Los Angeles County research unit followed Project 50, which began in 2007 as a $3.6-million plan “to find the 50 people likeliest to die on skid row’s street — the hardest of the hard cases — and house them however possible.” Since the beginning of the project, “the number of participants has grown to 133.”
According to the study, the project yielded a net savings of $238,700, which is “equivalent to $4,774 for each apartment provided.” Zev Yaroslavsky, the project’s supervisor, articulated the logic of Project 50 in the following statement:
My notion was that front-end investment in social services and stable housing would not only prove to be vastly more humane, but less costly for the public treasury. This audit makes the case for accelerating the county’s efforts to house the chronically homeless and provide them with the critical social services they need.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, for one, began a program in 2011 modeled off of Project 50 that seeks to permanently house the “60 most vulnerable veterans.”
— Nina Liss-Schultz