Michael F. Easley

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Dempsey Benton

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: December 18, 2007

  Contact: Jim Jones

Report details savings from provision of supportive housing to homeless people in Wake County

RALEIGH – Benefits of providing supportive housing to Wake County’s homeless versus the expense of keeping them out on the streets are being tallied, and the results look good.

A report prepared by the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work indicates a win-win for a community and for homeless participants in a four-year study of expenses and behaviors at Lennox Chase, a supportive housing development that opened in southeast Raleigh in 2003.

The Jordan Institute report tracks the costs of services provided to 21 residents participating in the initiatives in the two years before and after their entry to supportive housing.

The findings reflect several benefits:

  • Overall costs for services have fallen from $377,000 in the first two years before entry to $266,000, a decline of more than 29 percent
  • If the cost of the social worker who is stationed at the complex is excluded, the costs decline to $211,000, a decline of 44 percent
  • Costs for inpatient substance abuse fell from nearly $128,000 to zero
  • Costs for out-patient mental health services fell from more than $85,000 to $4,000
  • Costs for incarceration fell from $3,486 to zero.

Not all costs are down, however. The cost of medical treatment within the group is up from about $110,550 to nearly $202,000, reflecting mostly the increased medical needs of two residents receiving care for chronic conditions.

“What we’re seeing here is exciting, because provision of supportive, affordable housing works,” said Linda Povlich, chair of the 15-year-old North Carolina Interagency Council for Coordinating Homeless Programs. “Right from the start we expected costs to be lower, but we had no idea that the model we set up could show so much promise.”

The numbers come from a report prepared by the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. The report is available at: www.ncdhhs.gov/homeless/.

It is the first of four such studies that will also examine in turn similar efforts to use supportive housing to combat homelessness in Buncombe, Guilford and Durham counties. Each of the four counties is among those in the state that have adopted 10-year plans to end homelessness in their communities. The supportive housing model is one of several efforts under way to diminish homeless populations in the state. The reports will be used to develop a cost profile describing service costs and how those change as a result of the initiative.

"This report supports the creative work being done in Wake County and a dozen other communities across our state,” said Martha Are, homeless policy coordinator for the Department of Health and Human Services. These communities are recognizing that housing in and of itself has therapeutic value and when linked with supportive services it is the crucial component of ending homelessness among people with disabilities. Not only does it end homelessness, but it is fiscally responsible for the community."



Public Affairs Office
101 Blair Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603
FAX (919)733-7447

Debbie Crane