The Salem News published my letter. I’ve reprinted it below:
Governor Baker’s concern for the homeless is commendable and I applaud his efforts. I would, however, like to make a suggestion for addressing the issue. The solution for homelessness is not made up of a patchwork system of hotels and shelter beds. Rather, it is accomplished by the seemingly radical step of giving them homes.
This may strike some as a liberal fantasy, a wasteful giveaway, and prohibitively expensive. The success of a program in Salt Lake City in deep-red Republican Utah suggest the opposite on all counts.
In 2005, the city created a program where they gave the homeless homes and found it was more effective and, over the long term, cheaper. Whereas the average homeless person cost the city more than $20,000 dollars a year in shelters, emergency-room visits, ambulances, police, and so on, simply giving them a home cost $8,000 annually.
A study in Colorado reached a similar conclusion. It found the average homeless person cost the state $43,000 a year while simply housing the person reduced the cost to just $17,000.
When addressing homelessness, it’s clear the most effective method is to fix the root cause of the problem rather than treat the symptoms. I hope the Baker administration takes the bold step of doing this in Massachusetts.