In the late 1990s, Seattle leaders recognized the city had a problem. Homeless people with severe alcoholism consumed a tremendous share of public dollars, cycling in and out of emergency departments and the criminal justice system. The city's political, business, and hospital leaders joined forces with social service and substance abuse treatment agencies to adopt a new strategy not only to curb costs, but also to keep so many chronically homeless people from dying on the streets.
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A growing body of evidence suggests that it is more cost-effective to provide chronically homeless individuals with supportive housing than to allow these individuals to remain on the street, where they may require expensive public services.
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