Tuesday, March 31, 2009

U.S. study backs shelter, drink for homeless alcoholics

"A program that gives shelter to homeless alcoholics but allows them to keep drinking and not be forced into treatment could save taxpayers millions in public costs, according to a study published on Tuesday. The study also found that daily alcohol consumption fell by 2 percent per month for those in the shelter."

"The results were based on a look at 95 people admitted to a program in Seattle called Housing First from 2005 to 2007. They were compared with others who were still on the street and on waiting lists to get into the shelter."

"After 12 months in the shelter the total public costs relating to the care of the 95 individuals was cut by more than $4 million compared to the year before, the researchers said.

"In the year before entering the shelter, those who got in had run up more than $4,000 each per month in costs for jail, detox center use, hospital-based medical services, publicly funded alcohol and drug programs, emergency medical services and the like, the study team said."

"But after they entered the housing arrangement, their individual monthly costs for using such services fell to $1,492 after six months and to $958 after a year -- a reduction in total costs of more than $4 million, the researchers said."

"Each of them had cost state and local governments an average of $86,062 per year before being housed, compared to an average of $13,440 it costs per person per year to administer the housing program," Larimer said."

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