It also costs much less than not housing them. See this analysis done in Salt Lake City, where city government has a consistent policy of housing the homeless.
Medicine Hat, Alberta, houses all its homeless people.
People who live on the streets or in their cars make much more use of emergency rooms, detox centers, and jails.
Current programs require a homeless person to get on a one to three year waiting list. The wait can be one to three years. In addition the homeless person must “clean up his act” and give up drugs and alcohol before the person can qualify for low income housing.
Salt Lake City takes a different approach. There it is believed that a homeless person is much more likely to “clean up his act” if the person lives in a safe environment. In Salt Lake City a person is allowed to drink in his room or even use drugs, provided he does not create a disturbance. Bear in mind that a lot of the homeless have mental problems, which are only made worse by being homeless. They are better able to deal with their addictions if they are in a secure environment.
The cost of housing the homeless is not great. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity can provide most of the labor cost and most of the materials cost of building new housing. The limiting factor in Snohomish County is availability of land to build on.
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