• Tristan Angelini

What it really costs to fix homelessness in Australia





The six-months suspension on evictions is bound to end soon – fortunately, some states have decided to extend the suspension further but for other states, that is no longer going to be the case. Without the support, renters have been receiving from the government, the likelihood that there will be additional homelessness cases. Many factors affect a person’s ability to keep their homes, but the most common is unemployment. While yes, fixing homelessness has a cost, but did you consider the cost of actually fixing it?

In 2006, a piece was written about two policemen who spent a lot of time dealing with an alcoholic who had to be hospitalized several times. His bills piled up that it became legendary. The two policemen decided to do computation and they found out that had this man was housed properly even with a private nurse to take care of him, it could still be considered much cheaper. The total of this man’s homelessness actually amounted to $1 million.

Government efforts in Australia to house people lacking a permanent shelter during the pandemic have been very effective. Since March, over 2,000 homeless individuals were placed in hotels. The shelter program is said to be extended until April next year – which would benefit so many.

Because no one really keeps track of the cost, these policemen who did the calculation only proved that the cost of homelessness, not just to the ones directly affected is much bigger than what it would take if we do something about it. In Australia alone, costs of homelessness would also include “police and ambulance call-outs, prison nights, visits to emergency departments, hospital stays, and mental health and drying out clinics.” These costs are often ignored which is why it’s easier to just ignore the problem rather than facing it head-on.

The Housing First Model

In addition, an analysis of 100 research papers was conducted and the results revealed that there was a huge amount of benefits housing stability has brought to formerly homeless individuals that it also reduced the cost of non-shelter services. This meant that the public actually saved so much more money. The Housing First Model really paved the way for stable housing, which began in the United States in the 90s – prioritizing a safe and permanent home for all, most especially for those who need it the most. Support services were also provided

Health is Wealth

In line with the research conducted, the most researched measure was health and the study revealed some positive effects of permanent and stable housing to formerly homeless individuals overall physical health. There was a huge decrease in using of hospital wards and emergency services among those that were sheltered permanently. The number of rough sleepers that were housed properly also stopped using sobering services and mental health clinics because of its positive effects on their wellbeing.

Criminal Offence

Criminality is one of the biggest problems among those with poor mental health, which caused their homelessness situation. In a different study, it was revealed that there was a major drop in police reports when homeless individuals were housed with appropriate support services. Public nuisance offence reports such as “sleeping in public places, urinating in public and washing in public bathrooms” became less. Can you just imagine the amount of money the public will be able to save if homeless people received the support that they so wanted all along?

As a community, there must be available options for those who have less. This way, the problems that will stem from homelessness could be avoided. Xotel is doing what it can to provide affordable housing to Australians who are struggling to find one. Check out our website and social media pages for more information.

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