Says aiding homeless saves money

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 4, 2014 

A friend recently had a tragic situation and lost her home. Friends rallied together and helped get her an apartment. That got me thinking about the people on street corners with cardboard signs saying "Homeless" or "Need work" -- they aren't as fortunate and cared for as my friend.

Does the responsibility fall on our community to help? If so, how much does that cost? Utah spends about $11,000 a year to provide for a homeless person. Seems like a lot. But it costs $16,000 for everyone they don't take care of. Could that be right?

Negative interactions with police, living conditions resulting in poorer health and unpaid trips to the emergency room all cost more. A study here in Bellingham showed that when the chronically homeless are taken care of they have 65 percent fewer police contacts and a 90 percent reduction in jail bookings! That saves us money.

So, to the Bellingham City Council, thank you for increasing our local human services budget last year! I would encourage the County Council to allocate federal Economic Development Initiative funds to support infrastructure for low-income housing. And our state government needs to preserve important funding for the homeless by continuing document recording fees this session.

My kids tease me about liking coupons and good deals. Well, taking care of the homeless is like a two-for-one coupon. It feels good in my heart to help a homeless person and it's actually an economic benefit to our community.

Paul Orlowski

Belllingham

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