A recently released study by Elior Cohen at UCLA finds that targeted housing assistance to people experiencing homelessness reduces crime, increases employment, and improves health. The study finds that participation in housing programs not only reduces the probability of returning to the homeless support system but also (within 18 months):
- Lowers the number of emergency department visits by 80 percent.
- Reduces the number of jail days by 130 percent.
- Reduces the probability of committing a crime by 80 percent.
- Increases the probability of reporting employment by 24 percentage points.
“In recent years, researchers and policy makers have questioned whether housing assistance is sufficient to treat homelessness and whether the Housing First approach is cost effective. However, despite the widespread adoption of this policy, the existing literature did not provide robust evidence regarding these questions,” writes Elior Cohen. “My study fills this gap in the literature using administrative data and exogenous variation in housing assistance receipt to confirm that housing assistance programs for the homeless can indeed reduce future homelessness, in addition to improving other socioeconomic outcomes that contribute to improved likelihood of successful rehabilitation and reintegration to society.”
Read the study’s findings here.