Here’s food for Thought . . . There’s no place like home.
Unless you’re homeless – living, more likely subsisting, along a creek, under an overpass, or on a rare night, in a shelter.
Yet that’s how roughly 7,600 people spend their days – and nights – on any given day in Santa Clara County alone. Add another 2,500 in San Mateo County.
Thanks to the ground-breaking work of Destination: Home, we now know “the cost” of homelessness, from a dollars and cents perspective: $520 million in taxpayer dollars each year – just in Santa Clara County:
- 53 percent is for health care – think emergency room visits, ambulance rides, et cetera.
- 13 percent is for social services – like mental health services and drug and alcohol rehabilitation
- 34 percent is for the criminal justice system (mostly jail costs)
Instead of the expense involved in treating the symptoms, Destination: Home challenges us to consider a cure – permanent housing with specific services for those needing long-term care.
Would such an approach work? One thing is clear, in spite of our best intentions and big investments, our current efforts to “treat the symptoms” are incredibly expensive and sadly less effective.
Because the “true cost of homelessness” isn’t just the $520 million spent each year. It is the broken lives, and hearts, in 7,600 human beings living in the streets, in the shadows, all alone.