Homelessness is extremely prevalent in most cities and very costly to everyone in society. For individuals who are homeless, the cost of being homeless is their life. The homeless face a variety of health issues ranging from the lack of nutrition to fighting the elements of nature.
Those of us who are not homeless, pay the cost of homelessness through an increase of public services such as police, hospitalization and correctional systems.
In Baltimore City, the average cost of one emergency room visit is $1,354. Per the state of Maryland, the approximate daily cost to house an inmate is $106 and the average daily rate for a Maryland Police Officer, is $135.00. The combined mentioned cost is equal to serving 1 homeless person for the day, roughly $1,595. There are about 4,000 people homeless in Baltimore City which means that the city could easily spend $6,380,000 on the homeless. Ultimately, it’s more expensive for us to walk pass a homeless person on the street, than for us to do nothing at all.
Looking at how we decide to allocate our resources to the homeless, it’s obvious to me that we are just putting a band aid on the real problem. The 100,000 Homes Campaign has a brilliant concept on how to alleviate homelessness. This organization seeks out and brokers housing arrangements with landlords who are willing to donate 1% of their vacant units to the homeless. The cost of this program is supported by private and government funds. Along with housing, the 100,000 Homes Campaign also provides social services such as assistance with addiction counseling, mental health services and job training.
Per census data, Baltimore City has 55,807 vacant housing units. There’s really no reason for homelessness in Baltimore City or any other city. Do you think a program like the 100,000 Homes Campaign could work for your community? What is your city doing about homelessness? Let’s talk about it.