February 8, 2013

Another View: Task force member supports city's homeless prevention plan

Providing housing to people with medical or mental health needs is cost effective and humane.

By THOMAS CHALMERS McLAUGHLIN

As a member of the Portland Homeless Prevention Task Force, I am in full support of the task force recommendations and work plan.

The task force, comprised of members of the business community, social service agencies and neighborhood representatives, spent several months examining issues and causes of homelessness, as well as workable solutions that lead to preventing and ending homelessness in our community.

The final recommendations are both well reasoned and based on data from multiple sources, including several evaluations of the effectiveness of service delivery systems to people who are homeless. Many of these evaluation reports come from research on the effectiveness of homeless services delivered by Preble Street.

In fact, several studies of service delivery systems offered at Preble Street suggest their interventions actually save Portland taxpayers money in emergency services such as ambulance runs and police contacts.

System-wide analysis has been conducted both in Portland and statewide relating to the cost effectiveness of housing versus maintaining the current shelter system and emergency services for those who access the shelters.

The evidence from multiple studies is clear, providing people who are homeless with housing is more cost effective than supporting them in emergency shelters with emergency services.

Conversely, there is no evidence that suggests punitive measures decrease homelessness or demand.

Plus, all would agree providing people who are homeless with a place to stay is the right thing to do.

Thomas Chalmers McLaughlin of Portland is a member of the Portland Homeless Prevention Task Force.

 

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