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The Key Concepts in Economics

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Assignment: The Key Concepts in Economics
Curing Chronic Homelessness
ECO100

The topic I chose is about homelessness and the cure that is sweeping the nation. There are multiple types of homeless, some are short termed, often uncounted as they are able quickly recover from the reason which left them homeless in the first place. Some are considered chronically homeless, which can mean a couple things; the first is that the homeless person has gone without a steady home at least four times out of the last four years. But, this can also mean that they have a disability that has caused them to be homeless for more than a year. Unfortunately, we have seen constantly increasing numbers of homeless Veterans since the Vietnam War (Haggerty, 2015). Not only is it doing the exact opposite of everything we have been told is the correct way to handle homelessness, especially chronic homelessness, but it is proving to be far more successful than anyone could have ever dreamed (The Editorial Board, 2015)! No matter where you live, the signs of homelessness are there if you take the time to look for them.. They are the most obvious when you are within great city centers because there is an ease of access to assistance that comes with being close to major hubs. Nevertheless, even an hour outside of a major city where we have nothing but farmland and wild land as far as the eye can see, we still have the same problems, they are just harder to find. One good example is during the warm months (I can’t say for the cold as I’ve never been to the camp ground in the winter months), you can find some people preferring to stay at local campgrounds instead of weekly or monthly rates at hotels.

How much money does the government, by this revolutionary and opposite the norm approach, save? In Utah, one chronically homeless person ended up causing the state almost 1 million dollars in a single year with the “traditional approach.” Typically, under the traditional approach of making homeless people “home ready” before giving them any sort of stable home front, each homeless person cost the state of Utah around $20,000/year. Colorado found that the average homeless person cost the state around $43,000/year, yet when using an initiative something like what “Housing First accomplished in Utah, those costs dropped to $17,000 per year. (The Editorial Board, 2015)

The approach of giving the homeless homes first, before address any other problems be it drugs, health, mental health, etc. is not only a lot more effective in the cost and financial departments. It is also very effective in the results department. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that just about everything in the world does a little better if it is able to grow in a structured environment. Your beans and peas will grow better if they have some sort of structure against which they may grow. The same can be said for children and whether we want to admit it or not, as adults, we grow and thrive better with structure as well. Personally, I do not even comprehend how they thought it was a good idea to try to get someone on the streets, who is staying on the streets, clean from drugs as well as actually help for any health problems physical and mental. As real life results and studies have shown, having a stable place to live, increases a person’s ability to deal with any underlying issues that were contributing to their chronic homelessness. These can range anywhere from drugs to physical health or to mental health problems, the important point is that with stable housing, these underlying issues are being treated more easily and at a much lower cost than if the same person continued being homeless and living on the streets (The Editorial Board, 2015). Ultimately, just about anyone can succeed in coming out of chronic homelessness if they have the right mix of assistances in place (SUROWIECKI, 2014).

I think the effect that this homelessness has in cost alone to the individual state government makes it obvious what the roll over benefits will be for the country’s government. One of the costs that we have to absorb as taxpayers and as a whole is the costs of those in need of state and federal assistance. One major section of the homeless are our war Veterans. The majority of us think only in terms of the current wars but when you speak with those who suffer from undiagnosed mental illnesses, you can often find Vietnam and Korean War Veterans. Today we finally have a name for disorders such as PTSD or TBI, unfortunately those that came before our generation had no such thing and have since spent their lives suffering on the streets.

The last key point that I choose relates to “the rest of us.” Homelessness is as blind as Lady Justice is. It is everywhere and today, the majority of the population is just one or two paychecks from homelessness themselves. However, with solutions like this, the very same majority is more than happy to help support in various financial ways because they are able to see immediate and promising results. I believe that people inherently want to give to helping better their fellow man but more often than not, abstain because they never really see what their money does. With a program like this, it is obvious since the previous homeless people are no longer homeless! Besides, people are much more likely to support something so positive when their other options have been crude concrete pyramids and sprinkler systems to dissuade the homeless from sleeping in certain areas. We won’t even get in to the multiple cities and areas who think it’s appropriate to arrest/ban/fine/ticket/etc. people donating themselves and food to sometimes as innocent as feeding those considered homeless. Regardless, all studies and practicing cities have shown that it is significantly cheaper to home the homeless than it is to leave them as they are and create new laws and structures banning and haring them.

A major economic concept that we can apply is the “cost of production.” Thus far, it has been obvious that the cost of eradicating homelessness is far more cost effective than it is to simply ignore the problem or try sweeping it under the rug. To get a good example, we can look at New Orleans, LA. Before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 and breached the levees, they roughly had a homeless population of around 2,000. Once the water receded and they had recovered enough to take a simply count, it was 2 years later in 2007 and that number had balloon to over 11,600 homeless in just the Orleans and Jefferson parishes. In 2009 the number dropped dramatically, from over 4,500 to just under 700 in 2013 (Haggerty, 2015). In Colorado, studies have found the a homeless person can cost the state an average of $43,000 per year, yet the “housing first” idea drops those costs to a fraction at $17,000. In Salt Lake City, Utah a chronically homeless person costs around $20,000 but when they apply housing first, the costs drop to a mere $8,000 and this includes the cost of case managers (The Editorial Board, 2015)! Finally, I can’t help but agree with all of the proof I have been given. It is quite obvious that choosing to utilize housing before treatment is obviously more successful than what we’ve been doing up to this point. I have personally seen it work as I have been there and helped friends through homelessness. The majority of homelessness may dwell in city areas but it is really everywhere, especially when it comes to the distant and uncounted population segments like out Veterans and our run away teens. Every single case of homelessness that I have encountered would have been easily cured by the simply means of a roof over one’s head and a little bit of stability in their life. Those two basics are so simple but so very necessary to the human existence.

References:

The Editorial Board, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. (2015, January 16). Homeless veterans in New Orleans find shelter at last: Editorial. Retrieved June 1, 2015, from http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/01/homeless_veterans_in_new_orlea.html

SUROWIECKI, J. (2014, September 22). Give the Homeless Homes - The New Yorker. Retrieved June 1, 2015, from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/22/home-free

Haggerty, R. (2015, February 19). For Even the Neediest, Housing Is the Solution to Homelessness. Retrieved June 1, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/02/19/homes-for-the-homeless/for-even-the-neediest-housing-is-the-solution-to-homelessness

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