ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Paying to house the homeless helps get them back on their feet and is actually cheaper for taxpayers, according to the University of New Mexico’s Institute of Social Research.
“It’s a winning situation,” said Paul Guerin, the Director of the Center for Applied Research and Analysis (CARA).
Researchers followed 95 Albuquerque Heading Home clients for two to three years and found that it amounted to an average savings of $14,728 a person.
Emergency room costs decreased, along with ambulance and emergency rescue costs.
“People who are homeless and vulnerable tend to go to emergency rooms. They tend to get arrested for minor crimes,” Guerin said.
That’s why, unlike most studies of this kind, UNM looked at more than just hospital costs.
“We have jail data, we have arrest data, we have ambulance data, we have emergency room data, mental health service and treatment data,” Guerin said.
“I think the study verifies that Heading Home is the smart way to do the right thing,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry.
The non-profit said it has housed more than 600 people since it launched five years ago.
“I think our community should be proud, not satisfied. There’s more work to do,” the Mayor said.
KRQE News 13 asked what more the mayor had in mind given the latest research. He didn’t go into detail other than to say that things are in the works.
In the two to three years of the study, it estimates the program has saved a total of nearly $5 million.