PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s largest homeless services organization is urging lawmakers to invest more money in finding permanent homes for the homeless, saying it would have an impact on health care costs in the state.
With the support of the state’s Department of Health, Crossroads Rhode Island released a new report Thursday outlining the effects of homelessness on health.
Advocates say homeless people are much more likely to get sick or hurt, which drives up health care costs for everyone.
Jacqueline Garceau once had a stable life but is now one of 4,000 homeless people in Rhode Island. She says being without a home takes a noticeable toll on her health.
“My asthma is kicking up a lot more than it used to,” she said Thursday.
The study found that children without homes are:
- Two times more likely to go hungry
- Five times more likely to have intestinal problems
- Four times more likely to have asthma
- Two times more likely to get an ear infection
- Five times more likely to get a respiratory infection
- Four times more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems that their peers with homes.
“If you’re homeless, you’re far more likely to be unhealthy and live on average 25 years less than the average population,” said Crossroads President Karen Santilli.
Santilli says it would be in state and federal lawmakers’ best interest to help people find permanent homes, rather than housing them in shelters.
“First of all, it’s less expensive to house them than to maintain them in emergency shelter,” she added. “Secondly, when they’re housed, they’re less likely to use the emergency room system and have poor quality health. That impacts everybody.”
Crossroads also hopes to have social service groups and health care providers work with them in helping the homeless.