Los Angeles: New Housing for Homeless Costs $476,000 Per Unit
A Times analysis of the 29 projects [for the homeless] currently approved for funding found their average cost to be more than $476,000 per unit. Two projects will cost more than $650,000 per unit and five more than $550,000.So is the story here how liberal policies in California attract a lot of homeless people, or how inefficient governments can’t accomplish anything at any reasonable cost?
An analysis of state tax credit projects during the year before the bond measure vote found that supportive housing projects in Los Angeles County cost an average of $420,000 per unit.
But the real crux of the problem is the politically incorrect fact that homeless people are seldom merely average folks who have had a run of bad luck. There is a massive incidence of substance abuse among the homeless.
Clinical depression is also common. One scholarly review of the literature notes:
Using standardized measures, researchers consistently find that between 40 percent and 47 percent of homeless men meet criteria for mild to severe depressionThen there is the fact that a large number of homeless people engage in illegal activity. One study of a large sample in the journal Psychiatric Services shows that 28.8% of the ever “ever homeless” in the sample reported having been arrested.
The same study shows that 26.4% of the “ever homeless” has been diagnosed as having depression.
Plenty in this study should engender some sympathy for the homeless: an extremely high number reported they had ever run away, been ordered out of their home by parents, or subjected to parent/caregiver neglect and/or abuse.
But that doesn’t change the fact that what they need is not a very expensive rent free or subsidized pad of their own. Rather, it’s more likely a facility where they will be drug tested, required to take their meds, given regular meals, and the necessary medical and social services. That doesn’t have to be something as draconian as a jail cell. But it does have to be something that doesn’t merely enable bad behavior.