The Kentucky Interagency Council on Homelessness (KICH) is committed to engaging the state’s leadership to forge partnerships among state agencies, service providers and advocacy groups that enable all Kentucky communities to achieve local solutions to ending homelessness.
People are considered homeless if they do not have access to safe, affordable and permanent places to live. People become homeless for a variety of reasons. Health problems, family conflicts, limited life choices and the lack of a support system are frequent causes of homelessness. Economic factors, such as the loss of employment or the lack of affordable housing, are playing an increasing role as well.
The effects of homelessness are extensive and severe. For the individual, homelessness means more than just a loss of self-esteem; they face dramatically higher rates of infectious disease, mental health problems, physical disorders, disabilities and premature death. They also face heightened risks of becoming incarcerated or institutionalized.
Homelessness has a dramatic impact on the community as well. Homelessness takes a tremendous toll on family stability by hindering the ability to find and maintain jobs, hampering the learning process of children who are hungry and disoriented and causing health problems due to stress and exposure to the elements and infectious disease. Because they lack other resources, homeless persons tend to use a variety of public systems in inefficient and costly ways. The true cost of homelessness is passed to the community through higher demands on law enforcement, corrections, health care, welfare, education and other systems. Though the chronically homeless make up a smaller portion of the homeless population, they use a disproportionate amount of resources.
Precariously housed individuals are a key component of homelessness in Kentucky. There are three forms of precariously housed: doubled-up, living in substandard housing, or at risk of imminent eviction.
Studies have shown that providing adequate housing and access to services is much more cost effective than leaving the homeless to fend for themselves.
The cost to help the homeless in communities is staggering. The results of a two-year study conducted by the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville showed that it cost nearly $89 million over a two-year period to shelter and care for just over 7,000 single homeless adults. The study also showed that providing permanent housing to these individuals over the two-year period would have saved $6.4 million. This study, and others like it, demonstrates that providing permanent, supportive housing is the best and most cost-effective way to solving homelessness.