Should we give the homeless homes?

Tents were set up near the Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul nightly during the summer months. Hart Van Denburg/MPR News
Minnesota’s homeless population has become so large that places like the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul can’t keep up.

The homeless population in Minnesota has been rising steadily since 2006. Wilder Foundation data show the numbers up by more than 30 percent since the recession began. (MPR News)

Some governments have helped homeless people by giving them homes. “Handing mentally ill substance abusers the keys to a new place may sound like an example of wasteful government spending,” writes The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki. But, Surowiecki reports this approach has saved money.

The average chronically homeless person used to cost Salt Lake City more than twenty thousand dollars a year. Putting someone into permanent housing costs the state just eight thousand dollars, and that’s after you include the cost of the case managers who work with the formerly homeless to help them adjust. The same is true elsewhere. A Colorado study found that the average homeless person cost the state forty-three thousand dollars a year, while housing that person would cost just seventeen thousand dollars.

Today’s Question: Should we give the homeless homes?