Not only will homeless individuals be gifted a fresh start, the progressive initiative will save taxpayers a lot of money.
Beginning in November, fifty chronically homeless individuals in Dallas will each move into their own cottages, according to the city’s Corporation for Supportive Housing. Situated in a complex, each cottage comes with green recreational space, solar energy, and rainwater collection – among other features.
The residents will also have access to skills training and mental and physical health services.
Not only will the homeless individuals helped through this initiative get a fresh start, the program will also save taxpayers a significant amount of funds.
As the Dallas Morning News reports, a homeless person who cycles through the prison system and emergency health services on average costs the county about $40,000 a year. Keith Ackerman, executive director of Cottages at Hickory Crossing, told HuffPost that the program will bring down those costs to less than $13,000 per year.
That equates to about $1.3 million in total savings for taxpayers.
The drastic figures are nothing new: Programs focused on giving those without homes “housing first”, and then addressing their health and unemployment issues, have proven many times to be efficient and cost-effective.
For example, a similar housing initiative in Charlotte saved the city $2.4 million in medical costs alone. The non-profit Moore Place houses homeless individuals in its 85-unit complex and also provides each client with a team of social workers, therapists, nurses and psychologists to help them thrive long-term.
Hawaii is transforming buses into liveable shelters with showers for the homeless population, and Utah is on track to end homelessness by this year after numbers were crunched and it was found to be more cost-effective to gift apartments and social service assistance than to let individuals without shelter bounce around on the streets and possibly end up in jail.
“This just makes sense,” Ron Stretcher, director of the Dallas County Criminal Justice Department, told the Dallas Morning News. “Everyone deserves a place to stay; we’re only as strong as the least among us. But even if you don’t subscribe to that, it’s cheaper to do this than to cycle them through the prisons and the jails and the emergency rooms.”
Dallas is following Houston’s brilliant example which made headlines earlier this year. In June, the city was able to end chronic veteran homelessness by bringing together a number of local agencies to house 3,650 veterans over the course of three years. At present, the homeless population in Dallas is holding steady.
“On a single night in January, there were 3,141 homeless people, an increase of 1 percent from last year, according to the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. ”
It took six years of planning and development for the $8.2 million project to break ground in April. The project partnered with a number of groups, including CSH, which provided a $50,000 grant and a $50,000 loan.
In addition, the public is urged to get involved by purchasing items at Target to furnish the cottages, and to volunteer their services as greeters to welcome the residents and help them get settled.
This inspiring news is proof that collaboration and perseverance can lead to monumental changes. In fact, the development ended up winning the city the AIA Dallas Design Award in the unbuilt category for its plans to foster a healing environment.
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