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Saving the Homeless

Sometimes we are penny wise but pound foolish. Like when we “deinstitutionalized” our psychiatric hospitals and dumped all our mental patients out on the street, exacerbating the homeless problem.

But now we are finding out that kicking people out onto the street doesn’t save any money at all. A new study shows that the cost of dealing with homeless people is three times more expensive than giving them housing. That’s right, we can just give homeless people a place to live and it will save us money spent on law-enforcement officers who arrest and transport homeless people (typically for nonviolent offenses like tresspassing, public intoxication, or sleeping in parks), jail stays, emergency-room visits, and other costs.

This seems to be a recurring pattern. We cut important public programs to save money, which just causes other problems that end up costing us even more money.

I’m all for cutting the size of government and getting rid of waste. (for example, by eliminating subsidies for oil companies). But we have the General Accounting Office (GAO), which can tell us what programs work and which ones are a waste of money. Let’s use them.



  1. il-08 wrote:

    Wasn’t it Saint Ronnie that did that back in the 80’s? Along with making ketchup a vegetable for children’s lunches.

    Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 1:50 am | Permalink
  2. Zed wrote:

    Being charitable to our fellow man saves money? Who knew?

    What is always amazing to me is the undercurrent of jealousy that accompanies the arguments for cutting public programs. You know what, if being on food stamps is so wonderful (for example) why don’t you just quit your job and give it a go?

    Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    I watched it happen in the 1980s under the actor playing President. Rikers Island is a perfect example of how the man’s plan worked. The jail guards have no psychiatric training.

    Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink
  4. Patricia wrote:

    Given these points, it can only be mind-numbing that one of the first orders of business will be to put a “like-minded” man in the CBO so that their fictional economic theories can be realized!

    Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink
  5. Austin 3:16 wrote:

    And here in good old Australia our government has just slashed funding for a ranged of homeless support groups / initiatives.

    We all seem to elect a bunch of slow learners.

    Monday, December 29, 2014 at 3:57 am | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I think forward sighted leaders should think of ways to get some 2 for’s.
    An example exists about a mile down the street from me. My “very and always blue” state government (which by the way gladly jumped at the chance to kick all the un-dangerous mentally ill people to the curb in the late 80’s) closed a state owned large resident campus for the mentally ill about 5-6 years ago. It’s well over 100 acres and has residence halls, treatment buildings, basketball courts, and ample grounds of grass and trees. Instead of turning it into something useful like a rehab center for drug addicts or homeless, they elected to leave it vacant. Now the taxpayers pay for the grass to get cut, and private security to keep people out and the same taxpayers have to drive by every day to watch it slowly deteriorate and decay.

    They could have used it as a great place to let our unfortunate citizens volunteer to make a new start, learn skills (like repair and maintenance and teaching a whole laundry list of skill sets), and required residents (in exchange for room, board and training) to maintain the grounds, build and renovate.

    I just don’t get it sometimes.

    Monday, December 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Stupid doesn’t discriminate.

    Monday, December 29, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
  8. il-08 wrote:

    But lets not establish false equivalencies either.

    Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink