LOS¬†ANGELES ‚Äî More than 1,000 chronically homeless people will be taken off the streets of Southern California and given permanent shelter under a $105 million program announced Thursday.
Government and donated funds will subsidize housing for people who have been homeless in Los¬†Angeles County for at least a year. The money also will pay for counseling and treatment of their physical and mental health and substance abuse problems, officials said.
The chronically homeless comprise about a fourth of the estimated 51,000 people who are living on county streets at any one time, according to county estimates.
Advocates say giving permanent homes to the long-term homeless can help them begin to repair their lives and can reduce government costs by keeping them out of shelters, emergency rooms and jails.
A study earlier this year concluded that an earlier program called Project 50, which aimed to house 50 long-term homeless people, saved the county nearly a quarter of a million dollars between 2008 to 2010.
The new program is part of the Home for Good campaign, now in the second year of a five-year mission to end chronic homelessness and homelessness among veterans in Los¬†Angeles County.
It is modeled on successful programs in Seattle and Denver, said Christine Marge, director of housing stability for the United Way of Greater Los¬†Angeles.
“That effort is happening across the country,” she said.
Funding includes taxpayer money already earmarked for homeless services, along with donations raised by businesses and charities. About two dozen partners are involved. The project awards housing grants throughout the Los¬†Angeles region, from downtown‚Äôs Skid Row to suburban Pasadena and Santa Monica.
“Their work is a clear signal to the Los¬†Angeles community that investing in an end to chronic and veteran homelessness is good for our communities in every respect. It not only reduces the strain on severely limited government resources, it makes our metropolitan area significantly more desirable as a place to live and work and spend,” said Elise Buik, president and chief executive of United Way of Greater Los¬†Angeles.
The federal government‚Äôs goal is to end chronic and veteran homelessness by 2015 and local efforts are bearing fruit, said Barbara Poppe, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council On Homelessness.
More than 100,000 people are chronically homeless in America every day, including 67,000 veterans. However, the number of long-term homeless has dropped by an estimated 40 percent over the past seven years thanks to strategic efforts around the nation, Poppe said.
“It‚Äôs about using resources smartly,” she said in a telephone interview. “Absolutely, it‚Äôs within our grasp.”
A federal plan sets ending chronic and veteran homelessness as its first goal, followed by eliminating homelessness among families and finally among other homeless people, Poppe said.
In addition, a $100 million program aims to help veterans who are on the street for brief periods.
“They‚Äôve lost a job, they‚Äôve had a separation, and they need some short-term support,” Poppe said.