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Leon County Officials Consider 'Housing First' Approach To Homelessness

Iriss Photo Collection/ flickr

Communities across the country are implementing a 'Housing First' model as a new approach to fight homelessness. Some local officials want to bring the program to Leon County.

The philosophy is simple: if someone has shelter, it’s easier for them to get back on their feet, regardless of conditions like unemployment or addiction. The county’s Lamarr Kemp pitched the idea at a housing committee meeting Wednesday.

“It has been proven that to take a homeless person and put them in a house first, the day you find them, regardless of condition, drugs, mental health, alcohol whatever it is. Put them in a house first. Then they are stabilized so they can get to services,” Kemp said.

Kemp says the approach is more effective, and more efficient.

"Housing first would cost the local government, the community $12,000 a year. And previously, without the person being housed, its $22,000. The cost on emergency services, hospitals, police, prisons. It's a little bit of everything where the homeless seem to end up one time or another. Because of the condition of being on the street," he said.

The National Alliance To End Homelessness says the approach helps people transition faster, and maintain stability. The housing department is currently determining how to roll out the program in Leon County.