Steven Mahoney: Supportive housing works

hudimgSupportive housing in Connecticut had made great strides toward solving homelessness.

Supportive housing provides people with permanent, affordable housing with services that help them live stable and productive lives, according to the Corporation for Supportive Housing, or CSH.

Supportive housing addresses the causes of homelessness, which can include mental illness, substance abuse disorders, or chronic medical problems. Supportive housing organizations provide people with mental health, psychiatric, substance abuse, and medical services that help the homeless attain the privilege of wellness. In addition, the organizations help them find employment and education opportunities that can allow them to live stable lives with long-term outcomes.

Supportive_Housing_WorksSounds like this must be unreasonably expensive, right? Because the homeless and those at risk of homelessness disproportionately use shelters, emergency rooms, and public mental health services, supportive housing is actually the cheaper alternative for tax payers. In Connecticut, the cost of a homeless shelter averages $85 a day, a nursing home $228 a day, a prison $100 a day, while supportive housing averages a cost of $61 a day, according to the Partnership for Strong Communities. Additionally, inpatient detox averages $588 a day, hospital inpatient $1,089 a day, inpatient psychiatric $1,187 a day, and emergency rooms visits average $2,462 a day. Supportive housing allows us to prevent these more costly visits by taking care of substance abuse, mental, and medical problems before they escalate to life threatening problems that require expensive medical services.

Through use of supportive housing programs Connecticut became the first state in the union to end chronic veteran homelessness, according to an article written for the Huffington Post by the chief executive officer of CHS, Deborah De Santis. This historic feat happened by a combination of efforts by the State government, nonprofits, providers, philanthropist, and advocates. De Santis also credits First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, both of whom, she says, have passionately advocated on behalf of veteran homelessness.

Connecticut has made extraordinary progress in efforts to end chronic homelessness. 2015 had the fewest chronically homeless since the state started keeping statewide figures in 2007, according to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. The state is ramping up efforts and taking it one step further, an initiative called Zero: 2016. In partnership with a slew of organizations, the State of Connecticut has pledged to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.

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