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NEWS RELEASES
City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor
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For Immediate Release
Report Shows Costs, Benefits of Permanent Supportive Housing

View Full Report [PDF]

May 31, 2012 - A study of services provided to formerly homeless people now living in permanent supportive housing in Knoxville shows cost savings in many areas. The study compared the costs of a year in housing to a year on the streets.

The study of 41 residents at a handful of sites including Minvilla Manor showed that costs of community services dropped significantly from pre-housing costs. However, because a small number of participants had significant medical needs throughout the course of the study, costs for health care services were up for the group over the previous year, causing the overall costs to go up slightly.

A statistical analysis of the data, factoring out the most extreme costs from both the "homeless" group as well as the "housed" group, indicates that for the most typical cases, an overall cost savings is seen for individuals who have been housed. These results are consistent with similar research conducted in other parts of the country.

"This shows that permanent supportive housing is doing what it is supposed to do," said Michael Dunthorn, the City's project manager for homelessness prevention programs. "It is keeping people off the streets, out of jail and out of mental health crisis treatment. There were a small number of individuals with significant medical needs that continued even after they were housed, but that is not surprising for a high-risk population. Living in supportive housing makes them more likely to get the health care they need."

The study was coordinated by Dunthorn and conducted by researchers from the Knox County Health Department Epidemiology Program and the University of Tennessee College of Social Work. They tracked services provided to the 41 permanent supportive housing residents, and compared them to the same population's usage of services during the year prior to entering housing.

Among the findings:

  • Costs of community services including emergency shelter, emergency medical services and jail costs dropped by $76,721.
  • Jail costs accounted for the largest part of those savings, falling from $45,072 pre-housing to just $640 post-housing. Total days of jail stay for the population dropped from 626 to 89. Police encounters with study participants dropped by 67 percent.
  • Costs of mental health services dropped from $74,767 pre-housing to $53,359 post-housing.
  • Costs of health care services increased by $131,117 for the population, but just 7 percent of the population accounted for 90 percent of the inpatient hospitalization costs and 72 percent of the outpatient hospital services.

    The full report is online at http://www.cityofknoxville.org/development/FINALTYPCostStudy.pdf.
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