On this page we present detailed results for our Housing First model in Atlanta. You can find information about the following topics:
There are approximately 1,400 chronically homeless persons in Atlanta and about 7,000 homeless persons at any given time. Approximately a third of this group has a severe mental illness and a third have a drug or alcohol dependency.
Homeless adults have much higher arrest rates than the non-homeless population. While the percentage of arrests for violent crimes is actually lower among the homeless population than the non-homeless population, homeless people are frequently arrested multiple times per year for misdemeanor and public order offenses. We project that there would be 280 arrests among the Atlanta chronically homeless population in the absence of the program. With the program, the number of arrests would fall to 193, a 6% decrease.
Studies indicate that the Housing First program moderately reduces the number of emergency department visits among the homeless. With the program, we estimate that emergency department visits would fall from 938 to 851 per year, a six percentage point reduction.
33% of chronically homeless adults are hospitalized in a given year. Placing these people in stable housing has been shown to reduce hospitalizations. We project that with the program, the annual number of hospitalizations among the 1,400 chronically homeless adults in Atlanta would decrease from 462 to 399, a five percentage point reduction.
About 420 of the 1,400 chronically homeless in the city will be hospitalized for psychiatric symptoms each year.
With the Housing First program, this will decrease by two percentage points, for a reduction of 28 psychiatric hospitalizations.
Participants in the Housing First program are more likely to visit a primary care doctor than non-participants. We estimate that the number of visits to primary doctors will increase by 36 visits.
About a third of chronically homeless people suffer from substance abuse or alcohol dependency. We estimate that with the program, the number of dependent individuals would decrease by 10.
People who have been incarcerated have much lower rates of employment than people who have never been incarcerated. With the intervention, we project that an additional 96 people would be employed over five years, generating increased income taxes and sales taxes for the county and state.
The Housing First program immediately generates financial savings due to averted incarceration for participants. Over the next ten years, it continues to generate savings due to reduced recidivism and increased employment. Medi-Cal savings from decreased substance abuse persist for 20 years or longer.
Over 20 years, the program generates returns of $0.56 per dollar invested, using a 3% discount rate.
Sources of Financial Savings
By far the largest percentage of savings, 51%, comes from a reduction in days spent in shelters. The next largest source of savings is reduced incarceration from misdemeanors and felonies. Reduced hospitalizations and emergency department visits account for 19% of savings.