Housing the Homeless Saves Taxpayers Money!

New local data shared at Calgary Homeless Foundation Annual General Meeting

September 17, 2013

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Sept. 17, 2013) - The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) today announced data that providing housing and support to a sample of 72 previously homeless individuals with complex issues saved taxpayers nearly $2.5 million (on average $34,000 per person).

Dr. John Rook, President and CEO, CHF said, "This data proves providing people experiencing homelessness with housing and support saves taxpayers money and relieves the burden on more expensive public systems."

The data comes from analysis of a sample of 72 clients who were experiencing homelessness. In the 12 month period before these individuals were housed, it is assumed they were staying in emergency shelter full time, which costs just under $10,000 a year ($30 per night) per person.

Prior to being housed, average use of public systems (such as hospital stays, ambulances, emergency rooms, jails, police and courts) cost nearly $46,000 per year per person. There are three points of interest here. First, experience to date with the 10 Year Plan suggests there are a few individuals experiencing homelessness in Calgary who incur system costs as high as $100,000 per year. These individuals were not part of this sample. Second this system use was self-reported and only included health and justice systems. This means that most likely their use of public systems is under-reported and the costs are probably higher. Third, the main cost driver in the $46,000 was hospitalization, making up about $41,000 or 90% of the total.

This same sample of individuals was then provided with some of the most expensive Housing First programs from five different agencies. These programs cost on average just over $18,000 a year - not quite double the cost of these individuals staying in an emergency shelter. Each was housed for a 12-month period. The system savings were dramatic, with average system use going down to just under $3,000 per year.

Read the full remarks and see the cost savings chart. Read the 2013 Annual Report.