Giving Compass' Take:

• Sarah B. Hunter explains how Los Angeles' Housing for Health program cut healthcare costs while tackling homelessness. 

• How can funders help to spread successful models like this one? What are the benefits to the community beyond financial savings? 

• Read Giving Compass' homelessness guide for donors

In 2012, Los Angeles County's Department of Health Services launched a program to address homelessness among the population they served. Called Housing for Health, the program targets homeless individuals who were identified by their frequent use of county health care services. The program aims to provide long-term, affordable rental housing coupled with intensive case management services that link individuals with the kind of health and social services needed to sustain independent living.

The county's costs went down, too, by nearly 60 percent. Health service agencies saw the largest reductions, with the Department of Health—the provider of emergency, hospital and outpatient services—seeing a reduction of about $20 million in spending after the participants' first year in the program.

After moving into permanent supportive housing, residents' use of county services dropped substantially. In particular, the use of health care and mental health care declined the most, with fewer inpatient stays, emergency room visits and less use of acute mental health care. The number of months that participants received cash subsidies also declined. Although the number of arrests dropped, there was an increase in the number of days spent in jail in the post-housing period.

Read the full article on homelessness by Sarah B. Hunter at RAND.