According to numerous studies, the average homeless person costs the government and the taxpayers $3000 a month.
The biggest tragedy about the cost of allowing poverty to exist is that in the majority of situations it can easily be solved.
Whether it’s job training or giving people opportunities to work in so many areas that can set them up for success — we have not focused on eliminating poverty as our true priority.
This could be in training for clean energy, regenerative agriculture, transportation, infrastructure, and so much more. When it comes to housing the homeless and the poor, we could build housing in so many open spaces. There is ample land where multiple bedrooms could be built at a low cost with modular housing.
How can the rich level the playing field?
The wealthy are generally more concerned with increasing their wealth, even at the expense of creating permanent alienation, crime, human suffering, and environments ripe for gangs and desperate terrorist groups. In most cases, this is not conscious as it is simply a matter of following prior generations’ lead. Throughout history, our culture of the haves and have-nots has led to the wealthy growing wealthier unwittingly at the expense of others. The wealthy have grown their businesses without addressing the realistic impact of not addressing their increasing contribution to global warming, and the capacity to create alternative solutions.
When our wealthy don’t share a high enough percentage of their wealth to address issues in real terms, their limited giving and lack of creativity rings hollow. However, a combination of the wealthy, the government, the private sector, and philanthropy can create low-income affordable housing. Indeed, if you look at the costs, it is clearly demonstrable for 1/10th of the current cost. To see the detailed breakdown you can check out the white papers on homelessness here. You’ll be able to see the potential results when every individual’s human and universal needs are addressed.
It is a way to follow the constitution in these concrete ways where equal rights and opportunities would be given to everyone. Also, it would give us a chance to practice the golden rule of treating others as we’d like to be treated, especially if we were able to have enough empathy to visualize how we would want to be treated if we were to trade life circumstances. The incredible irony and sorrow is that if we were to use the money that’s being continually laid out, it would be more than enough if we followed a sensible path that would reduce costs by 90%.
Concrete ideas to help the homeless
It doesn’t have to be very expensive or tedious to share opportunities for jobs, housing, healing and development with the homeless. Here are three pillars that every initiative needs to stand on to provide maximum benefit:
Creating communities with people from similar backgrounds would allow for a greater understanding of needs and wants. For example, inexpensive housing that costs no more than $500-900 per month in the city, and less out in the counties can be developed on agricultural land that isn’t being used. Instead of spending $550,000 in California to build a one-bedroom unit, the costs could easily be $200,000 for a 3-bed, 2-bath unit on the outskirts of the city. This would be able to house 3-5 people that are homeless or even those people and families functioning on an extremely low income.
There are millions of acres owned by the government that haven’t been allocated for current or future plans that could be donated to the homeless and the poverty-stricken. This would further reduce the costs of housing by at least 25%.
These communities can be taught to grow their own food and become self-sufficient with the help of regenerative agriculture. There are also several different trades and occupations that are viable for anyone that has some capacity to work. In addition, there can be separate tasks for the disabled who can help and contribute in their own individual capacity.
- Healing Communities
These communities can be given the same accommodations, and be organized by the particular health issue they are dealing with. This would allow for both reduced costs and efficiency through choice of the experts needed to address the most difficult issues of addiction, mental illness and other areas of limited capacity. These communities don’t have to be anywhere near as expensive as they have traditionally been, and can still be humane and caring.
Let’s put our money to use wisely
According to numerous studies, the average homeless person costs the government and the taxpayers $3000 a month. This includes emergency room visits, police action, the spread of disease, and increased crime and violence, and when you add the unknown costs of theft and burglary, it would inevitably be more.
What’s astonishing is that we could take care of and house our homeless brothers and sisters and empower them to take care of themselves for far less. Indeed, it is even conceivable that it would be profitable over time.
Yes, it is true that for a percentage of the homeless population, they would need treatment communities with special needs. They wouldn’t be able to be self-sufficient certainly right away if ever, but the costs could easily be radically reduced.
The Cost of Allowing Poverty to Exist is Tragic to Society
To do that, we have to overcome our societal prejudice and utilize creativity, common sense and human decency. Once we pay attention to the many new ways of establishing communities on agricultural land and creative options in the cities, we will realize how many displaced people can be made to feel at home.
In terms of money, we would only need to spend on developing part of the initial infrastructure and training. Soon, many of these communities could be self-sufficient or at least close and be much more able to take care of themselves.
To help our disabled, ill, or those suffering from addiction, we could create communities that can shelter them and offer them a chance to heal or grow in different ways. Even this could be done in less than $3000 per person, per month that it costs now. And it will help them get off the streets and take away worries about getting their next meal or warm shelter. This is not even counting the benefits of adding motivated individuals creating goods and services for their communities and the country.
What are the benefits of being inclusive in our actions?
We’ve been taught and have grown up with certain beliefs that don’t contribute to both the growth of our homeless population or ourselves. We need to stop writing off the poorest of the poor as ill, unmotivated or undeserving, and realize that we could’ve just as easily been in their place. The right opportunities, support, and help at the right time are small steps that can enormously boost the poorest strata of our society.
Giving our fellow brothers and sisters care, a better life situation, and the opportunity to be self-sufficient will fulfill our hearts and bring out our best nature. This seems like common sense but until now it clearly hasn’t been understood. This will create more peace by finding a way to create less suffering for us all, one small step at a time.
It’s helpful for us to recognize that our fulfillment is tied to how our brothers and sisters are given the opportunities that so many of us have been afforded. How does that strike you? Is it limited to an agreement just in your mind or do you see a universal principle that you want to contemplate and look into being a participant in a practical and heartfelt way? Can you see that this might be significantly interconnected to a sense of unity that so many haven’t found in their lush lifestyles and focus on self and family?
The idea isn’t to feel guilty. The message is that we have a natural instinct that many of us have not discovered which calls us to give a percentage of the extra we have because it supports us to feel good and connected with others. It also increases our sense of solving the very real problems that have existed throughout the ages.
We are at a unique time in history where all of us will quickly become vulnerable if we continue to prioritize wealth, power and security more than generosity, kindness, inclusiveness, and creativity. When you see that we all deserve the opportunity to work, the chance to give or to do both, it is a universal step toward inner and outer peace, fulfillment and contribution to our planet.
What is a balanced relationship between my wealth and others’ situations?
The suggestion isn’t to give most of your wealth away. But instead, we’re suggesting that we all contemplate how your situation in life can help better someone else’s. Whether it’s something to benefit other humans, your country, or the planet as a whole, it will offer a sense of unity, safety and security for the world.
When I was a child, I thought, “Surely, we are here to love and be loved.” What else could be the reason we’re here, and what else could make us happy? This was not philosophical, as it just seemed natural. I realize this is a bit extreme for most, but the principle is one that is the foundation of all of our religions and the constitution.
Throughout history, the natives, aborigines, and tribal people have respected their whole tribe and worked to protect and be thankful for the earth. As we’ve been lured into luxuries that don’t add much else other than a momentary joy, we’ve lost much of this instinct to care for those around us and our planet. We are at a crossroads where we each need to ask — “What does real progress mean if it is at the expense of caring for others, especially those in need?” This is especially true when we see that it causes a lot of extra dangers for all of us.
No matter if you already think you are generous, maybe even very generous, it’s still a question of principle that none of us can afford to be complacent or entitled without paying the price of poverty in our heart. Whether you want to give 1% or 70% of your wealth and time to help others is up to you. You will choose your own level of contribution.
However, we’re long past the time when we can ignore our fellow homeless and poor humans without consequences for all of us. To help them and ensure that we do our bit to protect the earth, we need to ponder the question — “How do I naturally contribute to taking care of myself, my loved ones and those that really need it?”