WGPlus (Archive)

Due to the Government purdah on EU-related news items the next newsletters will be published on 27 June.  

What is the cost of not ‘fixing the problem’?

A look at the high financial & human cost of inaction when working with someone who sleeps rough – and the case it makes for a Housing First approach.

“Murray Barr was a bear of a man, an ex-marine, six feet tall & heavyset, and when he fell down - which he did nearly every day - it could take 2 or 3 grown men to pick him up.  He had straight black hair and olive skin.  On the street they called him Smokey.  He was missing most of his teeth.  He had a wonderful smile.  People loved Murray.”

This is the opener to Malcolm Gladwell’s article, Million Dollar Murray, which tells the story of one of downtown Reno's most prolific homeless people.  With all Murray’s years of heavy alcohol use, police contact several times a day, numerous A&E visits, ambulance trips, failed treatment & custodial sentences, the cost of patching Murray up, without changing his situation, was great.

“It cost us $1m not to do something about Murray,” said a local police officer who started to total exactly how much he was costing public services.  At one of the two hospitals Murray was often admitted to, he had run up a bill of $100,000 in 6 months. That’s one hospital. In just 6 months.

There are people across England just like Murray.  Whatever your perspective on whether they deserve Housing First – an approach which gives people a home without any other conditions or expectations – the evidence suggests that it works for them.  Stability, safety & intensive support not only helps people stay in housing but also reduces their contact with acute & costly public services.

Researched Links:

HL:  “It cost us $1m not to do something about Murray…”

Housing First England | Homeless Link

Overcoming entrenched or repeat homelessness

Good intentions being duplicated?

HL:  New approach needed to help adults break out of cycle of crime, addiction & homelessness

What ‘training’ have they had in coping with running a home (that’s if they even get given accommodation)

How better’ is often the unasked question when ‘tonight’s homeless’ is the immediate problem

The Government has reduced the NEET numbers, can they do the same for the homeless?