There have been several recent studies published that document the cost savings and effectiveness associated with permanent supportive housing interventions for chronically homeless individuals.
Recent Cost Offset Studies
The April 1, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association included the article, "Health Care and Public Service Use and Costs Before and After Provision of Housing for Chronically Homeless Persons with Severe Alcohol Problems," which reports on the results of a Housing First initiative in Seattle, WA known as "1811 Eastlake". This study compared 95 Housing First participants, with 39 wait-list control members and found cost reductions of over 50 percent for the Housing First group. While it is not the first published evidence of the service use reductions and cost savings that permanent supportive housing interventions can provide, it is worth highlighting because the level of the cost savings - almost $30,000 per person per year after accounting for housing program costs - are greater than some seminal studies that have shown more modest cost offsets through permanent supportive housing. The study is also noteworthy as one of several recent cost offset studies that have been released already this year. For example, a study of permanent supportive housing in Illinois showed a 39 percent decrease in the total cost of service provision, and a study involving 12 homeless service providers across Massachusetts found a 67 percent decrease in Medicaid costs for Housing First participants.
Outcomes of Permanent Supportive Housing
There is also recent research that directly addresses the well-being of permanent supportive housing residents. The April 2009 issue of the Journal of Community Psychology included an article entitled, "Housing Stability among Homeless Individuals with Severe Mental Illness Participating in Housing First Programs." The authors of this article reviewed the outcomes of participants in three different Housing First programs in New York City, San Diego, CA and Seattle, WA and found that 84 percent of participants remained stably housed after 12 months. The authors also evaluated level of impairment related to psychiatric symptoms and substance abuse at baseline and 12 months and found no significant improvement in substance abuse or mental health impairment with permanent supportive housing.
Full citations of all of the above-referenced reports/articles.
Pearson, C, Montgomery, A.E., and Locke, G. "Housing Stability among Homeless Individuals with Serious Mental Illness Participating in Housing First Programs," Journal of Community Psychology 37, no. 3 (2009) 404-417.
Larimer, M.E., Malone, D.K., Gardner, M.; et al. "Health Care and Public Service Use and Costs Before and After Provision of Housing for Chronically Homeless Persons with Severe Alcohol Problems," Journal of the American Medical Association 301, no. 13 (2009) 1349-1357.
The Heartland Alliance Mid-America Institute on Poverty. 2009. Supportive Housing in Illinois: A Wise Investment.
Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance. 2009. Home and Healthy for Good: A Statewide Housing First Program. Progress Report March 2009.
National Low Income Housing Coalition. 2009. Out of Reach 2007-2008: Persistent Problems, New Challenges for Renters.
Technical Assistance Collaborative. 2009. Priced Out in 2008.