Why Homelessness should be a Relic of the Past

Homelessness, especially in larger cities, is no uncommon sight. Scraggly people with signs and jingling cups can be found throughout any city. Of course, there are a variety of reasons why they might have to live that way; not all are drug addicts with money problems. Some have been kicked out of their homes, some couldn’t afford rent. The list goes on. While it seems logical that helping the homeless get back on their feet is a good thing(moral reasons, the economy improving from more buyers and spenders), would the cost of giving them housing, job training, and other services really be worth it? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

Although it seems counterintuitive at first, it costs quite a bit to let the homeless stay on the streets. That’s because cities often make homelessness a crime, meaning that taxpayer money is being spent putting homeless people in jail, simply for trying to scrape together whatever life they can. By outlawing actions such as begging for money and sleeping in public, while using public transportation to give the homeless one-way tickets out of populated cities, public officials encourage use of taxpayer money to keep homeless out of sight rather than introducing actual reform.This is a disturbing moral issue, as there are almost 600,000 homeless on the streets, not to mention those on the verge of homelessness(doubled up with friends, about to be kicked of their home, etc). If cities continue their continuous cycle of shifting homeless populations to each other’s streets, nothing will change. Jails should be used to house violent and dangerous criminals that can’t be allowed to roam free, not people who sleep on the street because there is nowhere else to go. Hospitals shouldn’t have to see the same patients keep coming back over and over again for not having a safe environment to properly heal.

At the moment, America is spending about $40,000 on every homeless person. What if they took that money and put it towards useful reform? In Utah, a program called Housing First literally found empty apartments and gave them to homeless, along with free healthcare and other necessities. By forgoing the usual paperwork, forms that the chronically homeless had already tried and failed to complete, cities were able to give new starts to those in dire need of them. The results? Phenomenal. Others cities(Medicine Hat, Tennessee, etc)  adopted alternate forms of supportive houses, with similar positive outcomes. The costs were anywhere from 25-50% lower than simply leaving the homeless alone. While the numbers are likely to be different for larger groups of the homeless, these studies show that it is in fact cheaper(as well as morally fulfilling) to really help the homeless instead of keeping them out of sight.

Overall, leaving the homeless on the streets is an unsustainable and immoral practice. Since a solution that addresses both points exists, it should obviously be utilized. Public officials should also consider the fact that people are also investments. By giving the homeless new lives, the economy can be boosted, and who knows what these people can contribute to society? To those who claim aborted babies might have the potential to cure cancer: so does the man with the cardboard sign.

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