What about mental health?

Secure housing also reduces the use of mental health and hospital services.

A 2014 New York City study (pdf) found that use of health services—from emergency room attendance, to substance abuse services, to psychiatric hospitalization—went down between 32% and 48% among homeless people after they had been in permanent housing for a year. This saved taxpayers an average of $10,000 per placed person (pdf, p.9), and nearly $80,000 (pdf, p. 11) for every homeless person who was relocated from psychiatric care into a home.

The findings suggest forced hospitalizations, beyond the human rights questions they raise, are not an efficient solution.

“It’s unfortunate that this is where the conversation is going rather than talking about community support, particularly the expansion of supportive housing,” says Grund. “This administration has been focused on supportive housing to some extent...but I think there could be a bigger emphasis on housing models as a way to make a dent in the street homeless population.”

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