The Cost of Recycling Homeless People

A Central New York man - who had then been homeless for over 40 years - was discharged from a facility in 2017 after 28 days of inpatient substance use rehabilitation. This rehab occurred pursuant to 9 days of inpatient hospitalization initiated via ambulance trip to the hospital emergency room from a local shelter.

I could hardly believe it but he was right back in the hospital as an inpatient via the ER just a few HOURS after his discharge from 28 days at the rehab facility. He spent 2 more days there and was then cycled right back to the very same shelter from which numerous similar cycles via hospitals, rehabs and jails have been initiated in behalf of this one man for decades.

In New York State, the average cost of an inpatient hospitalization is $1900/ day; the average cost of inpatient rehab is $700/ day. The total cost of his latest 39 day cycle of 28 days of rehab plus 11 days of hospitalization is approximately $40,900. I've previously written that in the last few years alone, this man's recycling costs via hospitals, rehabs and jails have totaled about a million dollars.

This latest episode of his decades of recycling is a good example of why NOT housing him costs us as much as a quarter of a million dollars per year.

This man is disabled and has been so thoroughly traumatized by decades of this kind of "assistance" that it's shocking in the extreme. I've never seen a worse case in all of my years of doing this work.

Predictably, he was sent back to the very same shelter from which these costly cycles originate. That facility has been paid for years to "shelter" him and someone there is paid to "case manage" him.

What I think is that he has learned how to cope with his homeless situation by using the system itself to get out of the shelter and into the hospital, a rehab or the jail, all of which he seems to prefer to the shelter.   Disability is not stupidity. He is a very intelligent man.

Probation officers work hard to help in situations like this. In my strong opinion, it is the  homeless housing authorities and many of the inpatient rehabs that warrant exposure and censure in cases like this one.

Chronic homelessness is profitable. Homelessness is a multi billion dollar business every single year in our country.  I see little will to end it. Recycling people like this man unfortunately serves to maintain it.

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