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No state funding for a program that works

Friday, Aug 19, 2016

* From Catholic Charities…

Hi, Rich -

I hope you are doing well! Wanted to send you a blog post idea related to the continued state budget mess.

Catholic Charities just completed a major study with the University of Notre Dame that was featured in the Journal of Science last week. It proves that homeless prevention programs work and save tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars per person. However, the State budget impasse continues to threaten funding to this program. In fact, last year none of the funds were released and we have yet to receive funds for this fiscal year, putting thousands of Chicagoans in danger of becoming homeless.

We are the only city in the country where this study could be conducted because of our linked databases with those who call the homeless prevention call center and the shelter system.

The study shows that those individuals and families who receive short term homeless prevention financial assistance are more than 70% less likely to enter a shelter within 6 months than those who do not receive the assistance. This program works yet funds are not being released from the state.

* Science Magazine

If someone is about to become homeless, giving them a single cash infusion, averaging about $1000, may be enough to keep them off the streets for at least 2 years. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that programs that proactively assist those in need don’t just help the victims—they may benefit society as a whole. […]

Homelessness isn’t just bad for its sufferers—it shortens life span and hurts kids in school—it’s a burden on everyone else. Previous studies have concluded that a single period of homelessness can cost taxpayers $20,000 or more, in the form of welfare, policing, health care, maintaining homeless shelters, and other expenses. To combat homelessness, philanthropic organizations have either tried to prevent people from losing their homes in the first place or help them regain housing after they are already destitute. But there aren’t many data on whether giving cash to people on the brink of becoming homeless actually prevents them from living on the street.

So economist James Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, took advantage of a natural experiment. Funding for homelessness prevention programs is highly unpredictable, and thus many programs are often temporarily unable to give money to people about to lose their homes, even if they qualify for the assistance. That allowed him and his colleagues to compare the eventual fate of individuals and families who called into a homelessness prevention call center in Chicago, Illinois, when funds were available versus those who called when funds were not.

The programs work by giving one-time cash quantities to people on the brink of homelessness who can demonstrate that they will be able to pay rent by themselves in the future, but who have been afflicted by some nonrecurring crisis, such as a medical bill. Recipients need to be able to demonstrate consistent future income, and the amount given needs to actually cover their housing expenses for the month. The average amount paid out, according to Sullivan, is about $1000.

The team tracked the two groups for several months. Those who called when funding was available—and received the cash infusion—were 88% less likely to become homeless after 3 months and 76% less likely after 6 months, the researchers report today in Science. “We found no evidence that this effect fades away,” Sullivan says. “There is evidence that it’s a sustained impact up to 2 years later.”

Although it might seem obvious that giving people money would keep them off the street, many antiwelfare critics have argued that such charity only prolongs the decline into homelessness. But that appears not to be the case, Sullivan says.

The study is here.

* From a Catholic Charities press release

In a groundbreaking new study conducted in Chicago and published last Thursday in the Journal of Science, it is revealed that when homeless prevention funds are available, an individual’s chance of becoming homeless within 6 months is reduced by 76 percent. The study proves that a minimal investment averaging $2,400 per person to prevent someone from becoming homeless saves more than $20,000 per person, per year in taxpayer funds that are needed to support a person in a shelter and with other services.

However, the State budget impasse has meant funding for homeless prevention programs is in limbo and more than $1 million in preventive funding was not available in fiscal year 2016. In Chicago, homeless prevention funds are disbursed to dozens of agencies through All Chicago, which receives about $2 million per year in funding, more than $1 million of which comes from the State of Illinois. In 2014, homeless prevention funds ensured 5,000 individuals and families did not become homeless. Because of the state budget impasse, that number was reduced to 3,000 last year. […]

The study followed 4,500 Chicago individuals and families from 2010 – 2012. The callers who received funding were significantly less likely to enter a shelter within 6 months. In particular:

    Those calling when funds are available are 76 percent less likely to enter a shelter within 6 months
    Those calling when funds are available spend 2.1 fewer days in a shelter over a 6 month period
    Callers with especially low incomes (those with incomes below $750 per month) who call when funds are available are 88 percent less likely to enter a shelter

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

13 Comments
  1. - Norseman - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 10:43 am:

    But how does this help us kill unions? Asks the Rauner administration.


  2. - anon - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 10:44 am:

    So if compassion isn’t sufficient reason to fund these programs, then saving tax dollars should be. How about it compassionate conservative budget hawks?


  3. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 10:50 am:

    As far as “business decisions” go, Diana Rauner thinks Catholic Charities should sue the state then have the Pritzkers cover the mess up for Diana.

    To the Post,

    The Rauner Administration made it clear, well before Candidate Rauner existed… destroy unions, save social services. No destroying unions, social services will be squeezed so tight that whatever IS left… probably deserved to exist after the Darwinism of… Raunerism.

    These programs are measured by successes not by balance sheet totals framed by union busting equality of worth.

    Speaks volumes to the true meaning of no social agenda.


  4. - Anon221 - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 11:11 am:

    “In fact, last year none of the funds were released and we have yet to receive funds for this fiscal year,…”

    Rauner intentionally drive the State into the ditch when he froze all contracts in 2015. Then the red line changes to the contract language that payment could be somewhat “whimsical” (my snark) for 2016 and 2017 contracts- but, still do the work or stand to lose any current or future funding possibilities.
    He’s not about to pay for a “tow truck”, so if the GA feels these programs are important AND vital to Illinois, Rauner bucks or not, they are going to have to do the heavy lifting.


  5. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 11:16 am:

    Can we get the raw numbers? What were the odds on the people going into a shelter with no intervention? If 30 out of a hundred went in with no intervention and only 7 out of a hundred went in with intervention then 23 were kept out at a cost of $100,000. (using the dollar amount in the story) If only 10 out of a hundred were going into shelters without intervention and 3 with intervention, then the same $100,000 saves 7 people instead of 23.

    The logic behind the intervention is consistent with my view of reality, my concern is with the way the results were reported.


  6. - crazybleedingheart - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 11:44 am:

    LBM, go ahead and write a letter to the American Association for the Advancement of Science sharing your “concern” with “the way the results were reported.”

    I’m sure they’ll take all of your specific, very-informed criticism to heart.


  7. - Anon221 - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 11:51 am:

    Here’s some facts and figures LBM from Sept 2015. Think it’s gotten better since???

    http://housingactionil.org/downloads/State_Budget_Homeless_Service_Provider_Report.pdf


  8. - Langhorne - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 12:32 pm:

    But, but, term limits polls great!!
    Madigan
    Reform
    No budget, no pay! (Fn 22: no reforms, no budget)


  9. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 12:35 pm:

    “The State budget impasse has meant funding for homeless prevention programs is in limbo and more than $1 million in preventive funding was not available in fiscal year 2016.” — Catholic Charities, August 15, 2016

    “In Illinois there’s been a long-time history of what I would call social service, social justice, a bigger role for government in the safety net than in many other states. I think we can drive a wedge issue in the Democratic Party on that topic” — Bruce Rauner, September 18, 2012.

    This is Rauner’s plan.

    This is Rauner’s ONLY plan.

    This has ALWAYS been Rauner’s only plan.

    – MrJM


  10. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 12:40 pm:

    My comment was not opposing the program but a technical point on the reporting of the results. I did not want to pay the $105 fee for a membership to see the full study. I expect that the data is reported there.

    The structure of the analysis was quite clever. They managed to get a random trial without having to make any decisions about who got the services.

    Do I think it is better? Not for the providers and the people who this intervention would help. With Obamacare and a slowly improving economy, there may be fewer people who could be helped. But I do not think there has been any significant change yet. That would take economic growth sufficient to make wages at the lower level rise. I have seen few signs of that.


  11. - Matt Vernau - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 2:34 pm:

    LBM good comeback CBH probably just forgot that scientific journals don’t publish articles on “failed” studies and end up wishing they had not published others. The catholic charity folks are as good as we can find. Trust but verify when ever funding is involved.


  12. - Muscular - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 3:25 pm:

    The study sounds great. The problem is how to pay for it all. Does Kentucky or Indiana have this program? Both have lower taxes and more economic growth than Illinois. The democrats spend the Tax dollars for the special interests not for the neediest citizens.


  13. - Demoralized - Friday, Aug 19, 16 @ 4:29 pm:

    ==Does Kentucky or Indiana have this program?==

    What difference does that make?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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