On June 4, 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama challenged the mayors of major American cities with her Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.
Just one year later, mayor Ken Miyagishima (D) of Las Cruces, New Mexico announced that his city has joined several other cities that have achieved an end to homelessness among veterans.(http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/07/17/3681818/new-mexico-veterans-homelessness/)
The other mayors who have ended homelessness among its veterans are: mayors Ralph Bechker (D) of Salt Lake City; Greg Standon (D) of Phoenix; Annise Parker (D) of Houston; and Mitch Landrieu (D) of New Orleans.(http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/07/17/3681818/new-mexico-veterans-homelessness/)
How did it happen? Turns out that open-hearted generosity is not only cheaper than the punishing policies of austerity but are also totally effective.
“It is a fact that has been borne out by studies across the country, from Florida to Colorado and beyond.” (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/03/24/3418140/charlotte-homeless-study/)
For example, the Orlando Sentinel reported:
“Living on the streets isn’t cheap: Each chronically homeless person in Central Florida costs the community roughly $31,000 a year, a new analysis being released Thursday shows.
“The price tag covers the salaries of law-enforcement officers to arrest and transport homeless individuals — largely for nonviolent offenses such as trespassing, public intoxication or sleeping in parks — as well as the cost of jail stays, emergency-room visits and hospitalization for medical and psychiatric issues.
“In contrast, providing the chronically homeless with permanent housing and case managers to supervise them would run about $10,000 per person per year, saving taxpayers millions of dollars during the next decade, the report concludes.” (http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2014–05-21/news/os-cost-of-homelessness-orlando-20140521_1_homeless-individuals-central-florida-commission-tulsa)
Las Cruces, like the other successful cities, worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), and the National League of Cities to guarantee stable housing and the supportive help necessary to keep veterans off the streets.
“We have identified all of the homeless veterans in Las Cruces. We have a housing plan for each of them. Every single one of them is currently being sheltered.” said [Nicole] Martinez [Director, Community of Hope, Las Cruces].” (http://www.kvia.com/news/mayor-says-las-cruces-ends-veteran-homelessness/34155142)
Last year, 2014, a first-year report conducted by the Department of Social Work at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, found that their homeless housing apartments, Moore Place:
“…saved $1.8 million in its first year by drastically reducing the amount of time its tenants spent in emergency rooms (447 fewer visits) and admitted to hospitals (372 fewer days).
“Statistics show tenants also stayed out of trouble more, with a 78 percent drop in arrests and 84 percent fewer days spent in jail.
“UNCC assistant professor Lori Thomas, who directed the study of Moore Place, says…“For the longest time, we as a nation tried to manage homelessness instead of trying to end it,” said Thomas. “We as a community have got to focus on how to get them off the streets, rather than housing them in shelters. Permanent supportive housing works and saves money.”” (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article9106181.html#storylink=cpy)