The Cost of Homelessness

Research in Canada and the United States has shown conclusively that homelessness is cheaper to fix than it is to ignore.

In a 2005 study comparing four Canadian cities, Steve Pomeroy estimated that it costs $66,000 to $120,000 per person per year for institutional responses to homelessness (e.g. prison, psychiatric hospitals) as compared with $13,000 to $18,000 for supportive housing.

In a 2006 study, Simon Fraser University estimated it costs $55,000 per person per year to leave someone homeless in British Columbia versus a housing and support cost of $37,000.

In 2007, the Calgary Homeless Foundation estimated that, on average, chronically homeless people consume $134,000 per person per year. Under their 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, the Foundation has been able to provide housing and support to chronically homeless people for $10,000 to $25,000 per person per year.

Additional Resources

Stephen Gaetz: The real cost of homelessness: Can we save money by doing the right thing?

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness: Cost effectiveness of Ending Homelessness

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development: Costs Associated with First Time Homelessness for Families and Individuals

Denis P. Culhane, University of Pennsylvania: The Costs of Homelessness: A Perspective from the United States