Camden, NJ
Informing and Connecting Engaged Citizens
February 24, 2015
In Camden, Housing the Homeless to Ease Strain on Health Resources

Shunting the homeless into shelters, according to some experts, does little or nothing to cure the medical problems that plague this population -- addiction, frequent hospital visits, untreated physical and mental illnesses -- and overburden healthcare providers.

Housing First has established a track record in Mercer County over the past seven years. But the Camden pilot announced yesterday, which is scheduled to begin with up to 50 residents later this year, could be expanded statewide if it’s successful.

The program gives housing vouchers to the homeless so they can rent homes in their communities. It also supplies variety of individually tailored healthcare services, including mental-health and addiction treatment if necessary.

While the financial outlay for the housing alone is significant -- the Department of Community Affairs expects to spend $500,000 annually -- it may be justified by the reduction in emergency-room and inpatient hospital visits. A similar program in New York saved an estimated $10,000 per resident.

Brenner said that the current system uses permanent housing as a reward for good behavior. Since homelessness contributes to cycles of poor mental health, homeless people often have to apply repeatedly after committing infractions. In Housing First, the services follow once a permanent home is found for a homeless person, which reduces the rate of re-hospitalization.

A key component of the program is the range of services provided to residents. These can include assistance in basic skills like how to cook and clean that many homeless residents struggle with.

The request for proposals to launch the pilot program is expected in March, with an eye on a July launch.

See link to full article below.
In Camden, Housing the Homeless to Ease Strain on Health Resources
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