SYDNEY, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Providing housing for homeless people is significantly cheaper for governments than leaving them on the streets, an Australian study has found.
Research published by SGS Economics and Planning estimated that every homeless person was costing Victoria 19,737 U.S. dollars every year when health, crime and other factors were accounted for.
Approximately 7,600 people are currently homeless in Victoria, bringing the total cost of homelessness every year to 149.5 million U.S. dollars.
A study published by The University of Melbourne on Thursday said that despite the set-up cost of placing homeless people in emergency accommodation being 46,000 U.S. dollars per person, the investment would result in savings of 7,500 U.S. dollars per person per year over 20 years.
Ellen Witte, the lead author of the study, said the findings should drive investment into emergency accommodation for the homeless.
"We hope that this will make clear to the government that if you provide people with a roof over their heads there will be a lesser demand and impact on emergency services, on healthcare, on the police force because there will be a reduction of crime and, last but not least, it will greatly improve the quality of life of the people involved," Witte told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
SGS found that the biggest difference from getting the homeless off the streets would be in healthcare, with 6,476 U.S. dollars being saved per person put into emergency accommodation every year.
The report returned a cost-benefit ratio of 2.7, meaning that the government would see a return on investment of 270 percent over a 20-year period.
Sherri Brounhout from activist group Melbourne City Mission said that being able to monetize homelessness was a big step in convincing governments to invest in housing.
"We've known for a long time that homelessness has a huge impact on both the individual and the community but to now be able to monetise that and put it in a level that we can understand ... that's a game changer," Brounhout told the ABC.