Supervisor Farrell Releases First-of-Its-Kind "Cost of Homelessness" Report

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, Supervisor Mark Farrell released a first-of-its-kind Budget and Legislative Analyst report that calculates the costs of homelessness in San Francisco. The report represents the costs of homelessness in San Francisco by tracking a population of 1,818 adults through the homelessness housing and services system from Fiscal Year 2007-08 through Fiscal Year 2014-15.

Supervisor Farrell Releases First-of-Its-Kind "Cost of Homelessness" Report

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, Supervisor Mark Farrell released a first-of-its-kind Budget and Legislative Analyst report that calculates the costs of homelessness in San Francisco. The report represents the costs of homelessness in San Francisco by tracking a population of 1,818 adults through the homelessness housing and services system from Fiscal Year 2007-08 through Fiscal Year 2014-15.

 

“Homelessness in San Francisco is not only an epidemic with incalculable human costs, but also huge financial implications to our City” said Supervisor Mark Farrell. “For the first time, we have an independent report documenting the fact that it is more cost-effective to provide housing for our homeless than to allow these individuals to stay on our streets.”

 

The report demonstrates the benefits of supportive housing to homeless individuals and families and to the City: following placement in supportive housing, overall estimated homelessness services costs decreased by 56%, and the median cost of services per adult decreased.

 

Following placement in supportive housing, homeless individuals and families were better able to access routine or ongoing care, which saves the City millions in emergency and urgent care services and helps the formerly homeless lead healthier and productive lives. Placement in supportive housing helps to partially shifts costs from the City’s General Fund to federal and state programs – like CalFresh and Medi-Cal – and helped decrease jail costs by approximately 64%.

 

“This report identifies the largest cost-drivers and cost-savers of our homelessness services system – emergency and urgent care services and supportive housing, respectively,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell. “We must act quickly as a City to get the homeless off the streets and into housing in order to save significant taxpayer dollars and to improve people’s lives. We cannot let those with severe mental health and other needs live on our streets and continue to cycle through our expensive emergency and urgent care services.”

 

Farrell’s report found that the City needs to improve in providing earlier interventions for the top ten percent of homelessness services users by cost. The top ten percent of service users accounted for 42% of total service expenditures – 81% of those costs, or $92.3 million, were for emergency and urgent care costs. Farrell said earlier intervention for the top ten percent of users would lessen the steep increases in emergency and urgent care costs that are typical for homeless adults before placement in supportive housing.

 

Farrell plans to host a hearing on the report at a Board of Supervisors committee meeting in the coming months.

 

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