New study supports concept that supportive housing for homeless people with disabilities is cost effective

Less expensive, better for individual, than no assistance

AUGUSTA, ME – October 29, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — A new study reinforces the concept that providing supportive housing to homeless people with disabilities is less costly and better for the individual than providing no assistance.

The Effectiveness of Permanent Supportive Housing in Maine study found that permanent supportive housing is less costly and improves the quality of life for homeless people with disabilities in both urban and rural settings.

The new study, which reviewed the second year of supportive housing in rural and urban settings, reinforces what initial studies found, according to Nancy Fritz, Director of Homeless Initiatives at MaineHousing.

“Both the initial studies of urban and rural homelessness and this new follow-up study found the same thing: it is less costly for taxpayers and better for the individual to provide them with supportive housing than it is to provide no assistance and allow people with disabilities to live on the streets,” Fritz said.

The new study was released at Maine’s Annual Affordable Housing Conference. The new study and the original studies also were the focus of a workshop at the conference.

The new study found that urban homeless people with disabilities who remained in supportive housing during the second year experienced a 46 percent reduction in health care costs, a 50 percent reduction in service costs, as well as significant reductions in costs for such things as emergency room visits and incarceration, compared with costs when they were not in housing.

In rural settings the study found a 37 percent reduction in service costs, a 54 percent reduction in mental health costs, and significant reductions in costs for such things as incarceration.

Fritz noted the variations in cost reduction between urban and rural settings resulted from several factors, including the cost of the housing.

MaineHousing funded the study, which was prepared by Melany Mondello of Shalom House, Jon Bradley of Preble Street, and Tom Chalmers McLaughlin and Nancy Shore, both from the University of New England.

“The study and its findings clearly support the need for continued and increased funding to provide supportive housing opportunities for those in need,” said Mary-Haynes Rodgers, Executive director of Shalom House Inc. “This research shows us that not only is it the right and humane thing to do, but the most cost effective option as well.”

The new study may be found on MaineHousing’s website at http://www.mainehousing.org/Documents/Homeless/Homeless-MaineEffectivenessPermSupportive.pdf.

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