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Puts a Human Face on Chronic Homelessness and Its Costs
Richard’s Reality: The Costs of Chronic Homelessness in Context is modeled on the story of “million-dollar Murray,” a Reno resident who was chronically homeless over a decade. This report combines personal stories with actual and average costs for basic assistance such as emergency shelter and healthcare. Richard’s Reality also provides background on the more than 14,000 people—adults and children—in Maricopa County who experience homelessness each year and some of the public and private organizations that provide services to them.
The report balances hard costs with the real-life challenges and the “voice of experience” of individuals and families who are chronically homeless. As shown by the stories of Richard, Sam, Bart, Oscar, and others, residents who are chronically homeless generally:
- Have serious health problems, often including substance abuse and psychiatric illnesses
- Use the homeless assistance system and other services frequently
- Have limited support personally or in the community
- Experience the effects of multiple problems simultaneously
- Are left to fragmented systems of care
The work reveals a population with high levels of need and potentially high price tags for services. For example, a frequent user of shelters for homeless persons tends to be in an emergency shelter for 70% of a year for a cost of more than $7,300 per year at a minimum. The highest costs are for emergency healthcare, ambulance services, and hospitalizations.
Richard’s Reality is prepared in collaboration with the Office of Community Partnerships and Innovative Practices at the Arizona Department of Economic Security.