Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Study publicizes problem of rural homelessness

A recent study by the Maine State Housing Authority has shed light on the little-publicized problem of homeless people in rural areas. “The Cost of Rural Homelessness” concludes that the problem likely affects large numbers of people, but limited numbers of and access to shelters makes the population difficult to study, Clarke Canfield reports for The Associated Press.

Melany Mondello of the Shalom House mental-health housing organization headed the study and calls the rural population “the hidden homeless.” Results of the study found that providing subsidized housing with mental health, employment and other support services is less costly than serving people when they are without a home. Canfield writes, “Without housing, the average six-month cost to support the homeless was $18,629, according to the study; with the housing, the cost was $17,281, for an average savings of $1,348 per person.”

Although the numbers of urban homeless far outweigh the rural, the latter have unique challenges. Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, told Canfield that rural homelessness faces less transitional housing options, fewer employment and social services programs, and more limited access to healthcare than what is found in cities. Nationally, an estimated 60,000 of the average 675,000 homeless people come from rural areas. (Read more)

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