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180/180 Good, But Not Enough
by Casey Livingood (kclivingood [at]
Sunday Jun 3rd, 2012 1:26 PM
Are homes and services for homeless folks cheaper than police, jails, courts and hospitals?
180/180 Good, But Not Enough
By Casey Livingood

The 180/180 program--in lieu of the national 100,000 Homes Campaign--is helping the 180 most chronic homeless in Santa Cruz County find housing. But let's be real: there are 2700 folks without houses in Santa Cruz County. While everyone is focusing on housing 180 people in 2 years (the goal is to house them by July of 2014), the other 2520 are still wandering the street. Granted, at this rate, it would take 15 years to house the entire 2700 folks without houses.

Phil Kramer, Project Manager of 180/180, is asking individuals, churches, community and civic groups, schools and any other organization “to pledge $1,000 for move-in costs, something that is not covered by any government subsidy or support program.”

In a study in Los Angeles that came out in 2009--the inspiration behind 180/180--they found that housing the chronic homeless is 5 times less expensive than the drain on public services and resources (

But this is not a new idea. This study is “just one of 60+ studies that have been done researching the cost effectiveness of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) compared with the costly usage of emergency services,” Kramer says.

A 2001 study conducted in New York shows that housing the chronic homeless person is cheaper than the drain on public services and resources, but not to the extent of the Los Angeles study. This study shows that, on average, “the homeless mentally ill person in New York City uses $40,449 of publicly funded services over the course of a year. Once placed into service-enriched housing, a homeless mentally ill individual reduces their use of publicly funded services by $16,282 per year”( It is only 1.7 times less expensive in this study.

However, I believe these figures are vastly conservative. What these studies don't take into account is the immense amount of resources utilized by various Police Departments to patrol the streets and ticket the homeless for crimes; crimes such as sitting, panhandling, sleeping, loitering, smoking, trespassing (on public property), etc.

Daniel Flamer, co-author of the 2009 Los Angeles study, elucidates “City departments such as police were not included. It is very hard to get agencies to agree to these record linkages.” Furthermore, “quite a bit of public money is spent on police encounters with homeless persons, but this was outside the scope of our record linkage.”

According to Zach Friend, the Crime Analyst for the Santa Cruz Police Department, “In [the City of] Santa Cruz, problems related to the homeless accounted for 39 percent of the Police Department's 10,000 documented cases in 2011 […] that figure represents calls where the suspect or victims identified themselves as transients or listed the Santa Cruz Homeless Services Center as their address.” (

But isn't it more complicated than just reducing police expenditures? Because, in a way, our economy depends on it. Ryan Coonerty, a Santa Cruz City Council member, reiterates “Our jobs and tax base relies on people having a good experience here. We are competing with private malls (Capitola, Santana Row), the internet, and other regions. Studies show that the first thing that shoppers require is a sense of safety.” However, the aforementioned studies show that PSH and actual services for homeless folks is not only cheaper, but more humane and efficient for creating shopper safety than services applied by police, courts, jails and hospitals.

If we calculate 39 percent of the funding the Santa Cruz Police Department received in 2011 ($22.8 million), we find ourselves spending $8.9 million on the homeless just by the Police Department alone.

Since there is 1,070 homeless folks in the City of Santa Cruz, that is over $8,000 per person. All in all, 180/180 is good, but not enough. As my friend would say: "What if I was 181?"

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Brent Adams
Sunday Jun 3rd, 2012 6:03 PM
I appreciate the information and work done on this article.
We need more thoughtful and compassionate looks into the issue of homelessness and what can be done to alleviate the
causes and effects of this problem.

That said, I'm not a fan of the "all or nothing" approach to issues as divisive as this.
Santa Cruz likes to think of itself as a compassionate community and I feel that the sheer weight and number of the community resources, churches, groups and city and county efforts bares this self-perception out. Clearly we can do more.

If Mr. Livingood isn't happy with the totality of the 180/180 plan then I encourage him to work in the community of people who're working on these matters.

The local homeless activists don't often work on solutions within the community and help to build those coalitions, they attack them instead which seems counter to their stated goals.

If there is a real interest in helping solve these problems that have been so divisive over the decades then I'd like to see some evidence of this.

I see it as a step process along the way to achieving a removal of the camping ban. Clearly, making sleeping illegal is not a compassionate value and yet the businesses and multiple home owners of Santa Cruz don't want to see houseless folks sleeping all over downtown and in the neighborhoods. Attempting to protect those 180 most vulnerable people is a valiant start. We also need a place for the rest to sleep yet do we really simply just expect that those with empty buildings and houses are just going to fling the doors open to them? I think not.

I'd like to see a sanctuary of some kind where folks can feel safe as they sleep. Safe from what, you may ask?
Firstly, one must feel safe from law enforcement. Those who're paid to protect private property and keep citizens safe, should also be working to keep sleeping homeless folks safe. A good night sleep is important to the health of all. Secondly, sleeping folks need safety from those who would do them harm, or steal their belongings. Drug, alcohol and mental issues are also up for review here and any plan will need to address these.

A complete repeal of the sleeping ban is where we're all headed but we're not going to get there in one fell swoop. We'll need to work together building coalitions of support and agreement. We'll need to employ compassionate communication techniques because the conversation is going to be very challenging on both sides of the issues.

Mostly, I believe that if we're to make any headway in this cause, we need to work with those who're already working on these issues. Sitting on the sidelines and constantly taking potshots at those who're working on issues may be an easy way to feel like points are being scored but are we really moving towards our desired outcome?

The first question to ask ourselves is, "are we REALLY interested in helping the homeless population?" Because what I often see is just a constant barrage of sniping. I think we can do better and I commit to helping. I'm hoping that the author of the above article and all who read it are too.
by I. Dunno
Sunday Jun 3rd, 2012 9:22 PM
Are there systems of mutual aid and support that we can create, separate from the existing nonprofit services and state terror law enforcement model? There is so little political will towards real help, we end up sniping because we are frustrated, right?

The task forces, the speeches, the plans of those currently in power... good luck.

Angry demands made without sufficient political power behind them, are, granted, rather empty. But how can we better express our frustration, or transform it into true compassionate action? I don't know.
by Robert Norse
Monday Jun 4th, 2012 12:15 AM
Sounds to me like this 180/180 is another charity drive that fundamentally ignores government's responsibility to provide housing or at least decriminalize those who must shelter themselves. Instead of redirecting war, police, developer, 1% salary 'n benefit resources, and corporate giveaways to housing and employment, we get these fantasies of private panhandling resolving problems.

Meanwhile we have 10-year plans to (talk about) ending homelessness, more token programs to remove the most unsightly "chronics" from the street with temporary housing, while criminalizing and demonizing the multitudes of those outside as well as ignoring the more basic economic and institutional reasons they are there.

If Coonerty and Lane are backing this, one wonders why any intelligent person is joining this latest shell game.

A good start? Reminds of the riddle, "what do you call 50 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean" Answer: a good start, of course. Now substitute fifty city council phonies, povertypimps, city managers, and police officials in that equation.

This plan may be a sweet feel-good project, but has little to do with basic solutions and diverts people's attention with the fantasy that "something is at least being done".
by John E. Colby
Monday Jun 4th, 2012 1:55 AM
I applaud Casey Livingood's analysis of the 180/180 program. Unlike Mr. Adams, I don't believe this is a point along the path of fully accommodating the homeless in Santa Cruz, of eventually repealing the sleeping ban.

The 180/180 program and the sleeping ban are orthogonal issues. One is about housing a very small population of the most vulnerable homeless population, the other is about decriminalizing homelessness. Moreover, decriminalizing homelessness should not end with the repeal of the camping ban — the City of Santa Cruz has in place numerous other repressive laws which also criminalize homelessness. The most desirable change would not only be political and legal, but a change in social attitudes towards the homeless by locals.

The problem, as it is most elsewhere, is that people don't want to see poverty. They don't want to smell it. They don't want to touch it. To most locals, the homeless should be tucked away somewhere, to be made invisible. Ironically, by not providing a daytime place for the homeless to congregate, Santa Cruz shoves its homeless onto the streets — notoriously Downtown because of its central location — causing the very homeless presence which locals want to disappear.

Clearly it is impossible, although the City Council maintains this delusion, to legislate away the homeless. They keep popping up however much the City Council works, using the police department as their cleansing agent of harassment, to make them disappear. No matter how much the City Council tries to convince the public they are removing the homeless from their Downtown shopping experience, the homeless are extremely resistant to being removed. That is the nature of having a vibrant downtown district. Logically it draws the homeless as much as it draws tourists. Thus the cost of policing the homeless is a direct consequence of the City Council's delusion that they can legislate them away using the police.

Back to the 180/180 program. Supportive housing has been implemented in San Francisco on a massive scale, yet it has not been successful in making the homeless invisible. San Francisco still experiences a public backlash against homelessness, resulting in the recent sit/lie ban. Read this article:

To quote it:

"Capt. Denis O'Leary, whose station patrols the area, said there has been vigorous enforcement since late last month. This month alone, his officers have issued at least one "sit-lie" citation a day.

"Quite frankly, I didn't know what to expect," O'Leary said. "I'm finding that when I walk that beat, the folks getting cited are those who have other issues. They either drink too much, use too much drugs or have a mental illness.

"I'd rather have my officers focused on more serious crimes.""

This brings up the point: it is not enough to just house people, they must then be supported and integrated. The root of the problem is socio–economic: poverty combined with drug/alcohol abuse, and emotional and physical disabilities. To address homelessness in a meaningful way people must be provided jobs with living wages, social services, healthcare and most importantly, they must be integrated into community life in a meaningful way. This is quite a challenge.

I distrust top–down bureaucratic measures to do what I propose. They will all be patronizing and will always defeat the last requirement that the homeless be made a meaningful part of our community. As long as the homeless are approached as a problem to be solved, they will be a problem to be solved. Ultimately the issues are human ones, which require human not institutional solutions. After the community embraces the homeless as coequal members, then the other issues will fall into place.

Community, support and meaning are central to addressing homelessness not as a problem, but as a condition some members of our community find themselves in. Then the community will be willing to mobilize the necessary resources to provide jobs with living wages, social services and healthcare.

One last question: how can we provide these things for the homeless when we don't even provide them to housed people?
by G
Monday Jun 4th, 2012 1:21 PM
Recently I had an opportunity to speak with someone from Ashland and was surprised to hear how similar things were there. Same tourism/school economy (including the same oppressive wage/rent dynamics, generated by visiting students), same busy-body wealthy using petty laws to oppress the poor (their middle class has also gone under or moved on), same aesthetic tyranny as social policy (imposed on others).

Their ACLU chapter is more active, at least in the past.

Colorado is currently having similar issues.

I've heard rumors about possible outcomes of cutting disability insurance, which will only increase the visibility of those that are widely and unashamedly branded as less-than-citizens.

What I can say, from first hand experience: the current police, jails, courts, and government are embarrassingly incompetent, and no one seems to be very concerned about that chronically pricey blight, even though it threatens the very foundation of the nation.
by reader
Monday Jun 4th, 2012 2:03 PM
"no one seems to be very concerned about that chronically pricey blight, even though it threatens the very foundation of the nation."

Many are indeed concerned, shocked and outraged, but either feel helpless to do anything or are already doing everything they possibly can.

Right now the governor of FL is trying to purge the voter rolls. Who has -- so far -- stopped him? The local level election supervisors all over the state.

These are not elected officials, that I am aware of, have no campaign war chests. And this is why they are doing the right thing, because they are not already sold off to a corporate master.

The more we can get elected officials shielded from corporate influence, the more just the world can be.

Until then, tomorrow is election day.

Vote for anyone except a D or an R. You still have the ability to vote, even if there is no one to vote for. Register third party and make it known that you will no longer participate in paid-off fake elections. Because that's how the frauds that are controlling our lives are getting in.

They can dump an avalanche of propaganda on you, but no one can yet put a gun to your head to make you vote D or R.

Encourage reasonable people holding elected office to switch to a non-corporate owned party. It's happened before, in rare instances, i.e., Matt Gonzalez in SF.
by Mark Twain
Monday Jun 4th, 2012 4:42 PM
Matt Gonzalez left the Green Party. Saying more or less that Greens cannot run viable candidates. Gonzalez is now an Independant.
by G
Monday Jun 4th, 2012 4:56 PM
"Many are indeed concerned, shocked and outraged, but either feel helpless to do anything or are already doing everything they possibly can."

I was there, at the ACLU awards, when the Brown Berets derided the local ACLU chapter for giving an award to a local hate monger.

I was there, at the duck pond stage, when the crop of retread candidates vied for the implicit title of most electable hate monger.

I was there, at OccupySantaCruz, when the segregationists staged yet another purge.

Many stood by, or sat on their past, in silence (other than the Brown Berets, of course, which I still appreciate!).

Many indeed.
by j. b. krugt
Thursday Jun 7th, 2012 1:17 PM they likely hope the amnesia will soon fog the entire county,from the memory of 12/8/11, the sc city council and bd. of supes...if they and their allied agency types really seriously wanted to address the undesirable status of those without ....they'd quit their power addictionsand be in DC camped out en mass until uncle sugar fired the military industrial complex, et al and sent the basics of assistance plus nationwide.....i think santa cruz pols, et al believe this is the wonderful county of progressive Oz because they add the liberal option of handing out tickets to the reactionary one of swingin' police batons at the bums and the many who aren't but find themselves in circumstances beyond their control....... Coalitions of specific orientation are like the administration heavy united way is fund management to individual charities.... people taliking, moving around and promising much...but in the end little to nothing gets done.....that's how we have it now.... the nightmare continues....the dithering crowd click their heels three times and chant in unison..."there's no place like homeless, there's no place like homeless.........i'm very sure i'm not the one who's crazy re: this topic...what a world!!! :)!
by Kc
Monday Oct 1st, 2012 4:49 PM
This is just a thought of Brent Adam's comment "If Mr. Livingood isn't happy with the totality of the 180/180 plan then I encourage him to work in the community of people who're working on these matters."

This article was a journalistic venture trying to examine the effectiveness and the "larger picture" regarding homelessness and the 180/180 program in Santa Cruz. One would not see Alex Darocy, Phil Gomez or those many other journalists 'working in the community of people who're working on these matter'. That being said, Santa Cruz requires long-term community activists such as John Colby working on such matters. I knowingly was departing from Santa Cruz, so wasn't getting as involved as much as I could have for this very reason.

I just think it would be more helpful to attack information, not people, for putting their necks out and trying to do something for the homeless community such as writing an article on a program that is clearly not helping as much as it could. The title sums up my feelings on the subject, and that's all I wanted to portray.

Also, having the police "protect" the homeless and their belongings is really quite ridiculous. The police don't protect anything mainly because they cannot predict the future; they respond to calls AFTER something happens. That aside from the fact that the police serve those with money, especially those with A LOT of money, because those are the people providing jobs which serve the one's who can get one.

The fact that someone thinks I'm "sniping" is ridiculous especially when saying something such as that is "sniping" in itself.

Attack the facts, not the messenger.