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Homeward Bound For San Diego’s Most Needy

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Aired 1/13/11

Twenty five of the most needy and most costly homeless people in San Diego are getting a place to live. A $3 million project to get them off the streets is being funded by private and public agencies.

— Twenty five of the most needy and most costly homeless people in San Diego are getting a place to live. A $3 million project to get them off the streets is being funded by private and public agencies.

The program is dubbed “Project 25.” Advocates say the program will save taxpayers money in the long run.

“There’s a core group, some people call them frequent flyers -- chronic homeless, who just make constant use of the services,” Father Joe Carroll said at a news conference yesterday.

The homeless wake-up early, around 6 a.m., in downtown San Diego on the morning of Dec. 5, 2009.
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Above: The homeless wake-up early, around 6 a.m., in downtown San Diego on the morning of Dec. 5, 2009.

Carroll has been a long-time advocate for the homeless. His organization, Father Joe's Villages, will be in charge of the program.

“The savings are immense," Carroll said.

A San Diego study found 15 homeless people used $1.5 million in public health care services in just 18 months. That’s $100,000 per person. They used services ranging from visits to the emergency room to alcohol detox programs.

Other studies have shown that providing a home first, and mental health services and drug abuse programs second, can be successful in keeping people off the street.

And cheaper. One Los Angeles County report showed people who lived in subsidized housing spent one-fifth in government services when compared to the homeless.

“Our goal is to have the first Project 25 participant in permanent housing within the next several weeks,” said Brian Maienschein, commissioner of the United Way’s campaign to end chronic homelessness.

The project will follow the 25 people for three years. The United Way, the County Health and Human Services Agency and the federally funded San Diego Housing Commission will provide money and services for the project.

Currently there are about 10,000 homeless people in San Diego County and 50,000 families on a waiting list for federally funded housing.

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