A bit of cash can keep someone off the streets for 2

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country So economist James Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, took advantage of a natural experiment. Funding for homelessness prevention programs is highly unpredictable, and thus many programs are often temporarily unable to give money to people about to lose their homes, even if they qualify for the assistance. That allowed him and his colleagues to compare the eventual fate of individuals and families who called into a homelessness prevention call center in Chicago, Illinois, when funds were available versus those who called when funds were not.The programs work by giving one-time cash quantities to people on the brink of homelessness who can demonstrate that they will be able to pay rent by themselves in the future, but who have been afflicted by some nonrecurring crisis, such as a medical bill. Recipients need to be able to demonstrate consistent future income, and the amount given needs to actually cover their housing expenses for the month. The average amount paid out, according to Sullivan, is about $1000.The team tracked the two groups for several months. Those who called when funding was available—and received the cash infusion—were 88% less likely to become homeless after 3 months and 76% less likely after 6 months, the researchers report today in Science. “We found no evidence that this effect fades away,” Sullivan says. “There is evidence that it’s a sustained impact up to 2 years later.”Although it might seem obvious that giving people money would keep them off the street, many antiwelfare critics have argued that such charity only prolongs the decline into homelessness. But that appears not to be the case, Sullivan says.The researchers also found that targeting only the people who will actually go on to become homeless both increases the program’s impact and reduces its cost. Many people in the study who qualified for the financial assistance but did not receive it because of lack of funds did not go on to actually become homeless—they found some other solution to pay their bills or were able to move in with friends and family. Determining who will or won’t actually become homeless is a tricky business, but the data suggest that the poorest people—those furthest below the poverty line—are more at risk and thus receive the greatest benefit from the cash.If programs can find a better way to target the most vulnerable people, Sullivan’s research suggests they could save everyone money in the long run. The study found that, on average, it costs $10,300 overall to prevent a spell of homelessness when the costs of operating the call centers and maintaining the funding networks are included. But that figure can be reduced to $6800 by targeting very low-income families. This may seem high, especially considering only a fraction of that money goes directly to the person in need, but even its current state, that number is roughly only half the $20,000 that a period of homelessness may cost society.Shinn says the study shows that these types of programs are absolutely effective and worthy of more consistent funding. And economics aside, there’s a definite moral benefit to helping people staring down the real possibility of becoming homeless, says social scientist Dennis Culhane at the University of Pennsylvania. “These are generally very, very poor people for whom our safety net has been dramatically eroded over the last 30 years,” he says.Culhane says the programs can help prevent people from having to resort to prostitution and other dangerous behaviors to pay off debts from payday loans or other means of making ends meet. “These are not things that are easily quantifiable the way an economist would do it, but I don’t lose sleep at night about the fact that a lot of very poor people are getting emergency cash assistance when facing a financial crisis—even if they wouldn’t have become homeless without it.” If someone is about to become homeless, giving them a single cash infusion, averaging about $1000, may be enough to keep them off the streets for at least 2 years. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that programs that proactively assist those in need don’t just help the victims—they may benefit society as a whole.“I think this is a really important study, and it’s really well done,” says Beth Shinn, a community psychologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville who specializes in homelessness but was not involved in the work.Homelessness isn’t just bad for its sufferers—it shortens life span and hurts kids in school—it’s a burden on everyone else. Previous studies have concluded that a single period of homelessness can cost taxpayers $20,000 or more, in the form of welfare, policing, health care, maintaining homeless shelters, and other expenses. To combat homelessness, philanthropic organizations have either tried to prevent people from losing their homes in the first place or help them regain housing after they are already destitute. But there aren’t many data on whether giving cash to people on the brink of becoming homeless actually prevents them from living on the street. center_img Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more