In London, we spend $9.8M per year for the 1500-2000 people who are experiencing homelessness (the bulk of this going to the 600 or so who are ‘absolutely homeless’). That means we spend between $4900 and $6533 per person/per year. This is exclusive of even more costly modes of shelter, such as hospital and prison. This is also exclusive of private and charitable spending, such as all the local food services.
An individual on Social Assistance currently receives $368 in shelter allowance. To top this up to average market rent in London of $540 for a bachelor would cost $2064 per person/per year. That means that if there were enough units available, it would cost us far less to put everyone in affordable housing than house them in shelter. This is also a good argument for providing supportive housing services. The cost to provide social and mental health assistance in affordable housing is again far less than having people wind up in shelter.
It’s these numbers that show us we need a systemic approach to addressing homelessness, rather than continuing with piecemeal activities, and time-limited projects. We can end homelessness, and save the tax-payer money.