Lifestyle Providing housing for homeless would save governments’ money

Providing housing for homeless would save governments’ money

It is cheaper to provide last-resort housing to homeless people than to leave them sleeping rough, a new report from the University of Melbourne has found.

Last resort housing includes legal rooming and boarding houses and emergency accommodation.

Each bed provided by the government provides an average net benefit of $10,800 per year, according to the comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, commissioned by the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI). The University partnered with consulting firm SGS Economics and Planning, which undertook the analysis.

“We found that governments and society benefit more than they spend by providing last resort housing to homeless individuals,” said Ellen Witte, director of SGS. “This is mainly through reduced healthcare costs, reduced crime, and people getting back into employment or education.”

She said there is much to gain in economic and social terms, both for government and society, by assisting the homeless.

The report, The Case for Investing in Last Resort Housing, shows that the supply of last resort housing has dropped in inner Melbourne while demand continues to peak, with the number of people sleeping rough in Melbourne’s streets increasing by over 70 per cent in the last two years.

“Demand is primarily driven by housing unaffordability, people escaping domestic violence and a structural lack of social housing,” Ms Witte said.

Brendan Gleeson, director of MSSI and an expert adviser to the report, said:

“Homelessness is getting worse in Melbourne – but the good news is that governments come out ahead if they provide last resort housing for those sleeping rough.

“It’s time for governments to step up, provide new housing for the homeless, and make sure that existing emergency housing stays open to those in desperate need.”

Read more about the report’s key points here. Story credit: University of Melbourne newsroom.

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