A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Saving Lives, Saving Money: Cost-Effective Solutions to Chronic Homelessness in Philadelphia

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This report from Project H.O.M.E aims to connect new research on Philadelphia with the multiple studies that conclude that housing, in combination with service supports for persons who are chronically homeless leads to a significant drop in acute services use and a net cost savings to the City and its taxpayers. In other words, addressing homelessness by providing permanent supportive housing both ensures quality of life for everyone and saves precious public resources.

This report focuses on people who are chronically homeless as opposed to those who are episodically homeless. Due to their increased utilization of physical and mental health, criminal justice, and other acute public services, chronically homeless persons account for a disproportionate share of public costs, though they constitute a small percentage of shelter users overall.

The issues facing people who are homeless are complex and cannot be solved in a one-size-fits-all approach – people are different and a variety of solutions are
needed for multiple sub-populations, including people with severe mental illnesses, substance abuse, those aging out of foster care, people with AIDS and chronic medical conditions, and others.

This report lays out the scope of chronic homelessness in Philadelphia and describes the expenses involved in ignoring the problem. Readers will find “Do the Math” highlights throughout this document which illustrate the cost savings associated with permanent housing with supports. It is our hope that this document will be used to:

  • Influence policy-makers to make sound funding allocation decisions based on solid economic arguments;
  • Inform residents of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods that increased quality of life can be attained for the entire community by resolving a person’s chronic homelessness;
  • Serve as a resource for media contacts as they report on pressing community issues; and
  • Contribute to a climate of recovery that promotes respect and higher quality of life for every individual in our community.

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We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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