I have read and reviewed another article by Malcolm Gladwell, seeing as the majority of his articles correlate strongly with sociology. The article is titled Million Dollar Murray – Why Problems Like Homelessness May Be Easier to Solve Than to Manage, from a 2006 edition of The New Yorker.
The star of the piece is Murray Barr, a large and personable homeless man. Murray drinks heavily, and though he’s a rude and violent drunk his overall friendly persona makes up for it. It’s not uncommon for him to be picked up multiple times in the same evening by the police, and he’s on a first name basis with all of the hospital staff. Barr is more than capable of being self-sufficient. He has both a military and culinary background, but lacks the self-control to keep himself sober and off the streets. For a brief period of time, Murray was in a treatment program similar to house arrest and in that program he save over six thousand dollars, showed up to work every day, and stayed sober. However, after his release he spent his savings almost immediately and returned to the streets.
In the early 1990’s, Dennis Culhane lived in a shelter in Philadelphia for seven weeks, and realized that the majority stays for no longer than a day. The “chronically homeless” are the people who live in the shelters, are older, and are often mentally unstable. According to Culhane, the stereotype homeless people have is primarily derived from the chronically homeless. This group costs the health-care and social-service systems vast amounts of money.
In New York, an estimated $62 million is spent annually just to shelter the twenty-five hundred chronically homeless. The Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program reported that one shelter bed costs the city $24 thousand dollars a year. (Keep in mind all of these numbers come from an article written seven years ago.)
In Colorado, we realized that it’s actually cheaper to provide the chronically homeless with a free apartment and a staff of...