It’s unbelievable when you look at stats about the homeless today. With over 500,000 homeless people in the U.S. today something has to be done and while our government is all tied up in red tape and bureaucracy it’s becoming our job to step up to the plate.
A recent study demonstrated a single homeless person costs tax payers $20,000 in welfare, policing, health care, maintaining homeless shelters, and other expenses. This is why it’s so important to combat homelessness before it begins. How can we, without government help, do this?
According to a recent study by economist James Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana giving someone who’s about to become homeless $1,000 is enough to keep them off the streets for about two years. In fact, this single cash infusion meant a single person was 88% less likely to become homeless after three months and 76% less likely after six months. There’s also evidence of a sustained impact after two years.
Now, by no means am I saying that everyone should give up $1,000 to make this happen. Some people can only give $1 here and there, but even that can add up. In Philadelphia it’s possible to find (and rent) a single room for only $300 a month. Allowing a homeless person to go from being unhoused to having a roof over their head is enough to change their psychological mentality (something verified by a psychologist at NY University) so they can get back out into the community, find a job, and start improving on their life.
Utah actually did something like this. When they realized they were spending $20,000 per year on each homeless person because they were chronically using emergency services, they set aside $7,800 for each homeless person (no pre-conditions here) and chronic homelessness decreased by 72%. If they can do it, why can’t other cities? Typically, it’s because of too much red tape stopping things from moving forward.
Obviously, waiting on the government to do something isn’t going to help anyone any time soon. As such, it’s up to us to search within our own heart and determine how we feel the homeless should be treated. If we are willing to put faces and personalities with this population, treating them like we’d treat anyone else, we’d see that we can actually do something. You don’t have to give up your job or spend lots of money to make this work – a few hours or dollars help missionaries like myself make a big difference. Think about what you can do to help a homeless person today.