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Cost: Policy Articles
Much of the recent scholarship in homelessness has focused on the ineffeciency of criminal measures. Cost is an essential factor in any piece of legislation and the reports here detail the research about the costs of criminal homeless polcies.
Housing Not Handcuffs
This now famous study analyzes the costs of homelessness and its criminalization across the country. It finds that criminalizing homelessness is universally more expensive than providing shelter to homeless individuals.
Lewin Group - The costs of serving homeless individuals in nice cities.
This study provided much of the foundation for the first Homes Not Handcuffs report (made in 2009) and analyzes the costs associated with homelessness in 9 major cities, spanning most of the major centers of homelessness. It concludes that jailing and emergency services cost society far more than sheltering the homeless.
Indiana: Serving the Homeless Could Save Taxpayer Dollars
Homeless Policy is largely handled at the state level. Any legislative analysis should be based on the specific situations within each state. Here is an example of a cost survey done by Indiana that concludes similarly to the leading National cost surveys.
The Problem Is...
It is important to understand the background of advocacy concerning homelessness legislation. Factsheets, Reports, and Books for background reading make up a quick course in the problem facing America's legislators. Most legislation concerning the homeless takes place at the state level. While the information in this guide samples different states, more specific local research is advised for state specific policy.
Current State of Homelessness
This fact sheet published by the National Coalition for the Homeless provides a general overview of homelessness in the U.S. From addressing housing issues to the criminalization of the homeless, this sheet highlights the basic issues the homeless population faces and provides insight for addressing the issues.
Who Is Homeless?
This fact sheet from the National Coalition for the Homeless details facts about the homeless population. Understanding the problem is central to any legislative judgment or policy.
Two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty. Persons living in poverty are most at risk of becoming homeless, and demographic groups who are more likely to experience poverty are also more likely to experience homelessness. Recent demographic statistics are summarized below.
Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress
Every year, a survey is done that counts every homeless individual at a single point in time--on a given night in January. The information from this survey is invaluable in understanding and combating homelessness.
Books for Background Reading
Address Unknown: the homeless in America by
Call Number: MU Ellis HV4505 .W75 1989
Describes the nature of homelessness, its multiple causes, and its demographic, economic, sociological, and social policy antecedents. Finding the origins of the problem to be social and political rather than economic, Wright (human relations, Tulane) outlines remedies based on existing and modified
Defending the Right to a Home by
Call Number: KF3742 .H37 2004
Publication Date: 2004
A part of the "Law, justice, and power" series, this book discusses homelessness in relation to law and legislation, civil rights, and legal assistance to the poor.
Over the Edge: the growth of homelessness in the 1980s by
Often described as an emergency, homelessness in America is becoming a chronic condition that reflects an overall decline in the nation's standard of living and the general state of the economy.This is the disturbing conclusion drawn by Martha Burt inOver the Edge, a timely book that takes a clear-eyed look at the astonishing surge in the homeless population during the 1980s. Assembling and analyzing data from 147 U.S. cities, Burt documents the increase in homelessness and proposes a comprehensive explanation of its causes, incorporating economic, personal, and policy determinants. Her unique research answers many provocative questions: Why did homelessness continue to spiral even after economic conditions improved in 1983? Why is it significantly greater in cities with both high poverty rates and high per capita income? What can be done about the problem?
Causes/Alternatives Policy Articles.
Although America's recent legal history has favored criminal measures designed to punish the homeless, legislative analysis should take stock of what causes homelessness and how policy can better target those causes. These resources confront the causes and summarize the search for alternatives. Utah's initiative to end homelessness earns a special focus.
Confronting the Myth of Choice
Throughout the 1990's, there was a prevailing attitude that homelessness is a choice. This attitude forms the basic assumption of criminalizing homelessness. Such legislation assumes that homeless individuals are choosing some conduct which can be criminalized. Understanding the cause of homelessness is essential to analyzing the effectiveness of homeless policies and formulated alternatives. This article examines the Myth of Choice from a social science perspective, and is very important to understanding how to legislate about homelessness.
U.S. Mayors Survey on Homelessness
This survey compiles municipal data from 29 different cities on the principal causes of homelessness. The study finds that low paying jobs, lack of affordable homes, and unemployment are the major causes. The study shows the importance of attacking homelessness from an economic, rather than criminal standpoint.
Searching Out Solutions: Constructive Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness.
This government study examines state policies in light of the federal mission to end homelessness. It concludes that criminal measures to combat homelessness are ineffective and present legal challenges. It argues that integrating services and providing housing first are the keys to ending homelessness.