University's Center for Regional Studies releases homeless study

12/12/2007 8:00:00 AM

Homelessness continues to be a significant problem in Washoe County, impacting the community in many ways. The University of Nevada, Reno Center for Regional Studies and the Bureau of Business and Economic Research has released a new study on the county's homeless population. Study author and University faculty member Dick Bartholet will present his findings at a 2:30 p.m. press conference Thursday, Dec. 13 at St. Vincent's Dining Room, 325 Valley Road in Reno.

Project officials collected and analyzed data related to homelessness, the costs of homelessness and the cost-effectiveness of permanent supportive housing. The goal was to develop insights related to the homeless population and the network of service providers that could be used to better understand resource needs; measure the efficiency and effectiveness of various programs; understand the interaction of the system's components and to suggest ways to improve interaction between service providers, law enforcement entities and the homeless.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance prepared the study for Washoe County and was a partial funding source. It is important to recognize that while homelessness itself is a problem, it is also a symptom of a variety of underlying problems," said Bartholet, director of research development for the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. "Trying to address homelessness without addressing those underlying problems is much like trying to cure a fever without dealing with the underlying cause."

The study includes four recommendations, which address the following realities: Homelessness is not just a condition, but is also a symptom of underlying problems and conditions. Effective interventions must address those underlying conditions. The costs of homelessness can't be avoided; by not providing services, the costs are simply transferred elsewhere. There will never be unlimited resources to provide services. The community must identify and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its allocation of resources for the homeless.

Children living in weekly motels are homeless by definition, according to researchers studying the problem. Adults are not defined as homeless, but many are in transition between homelessness and residence in weekly motels. They are on the precipice of homelessness. The community needs to improve the weekly living environment for the homeless and help people get their lives stabilized and move toward the mainstream. "Anyone can be impacted by homelessness," Bartholet said. "It is a condition that affects both genders and individuals of all ages."

The University of Nevada, Reno Center for Regional Studies and the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, at the Nevada Small Business Development Center, conduct regional applied research in areas including economics, housing, education, transportation and healthcare. The center collects and maintains current and local economic/demographic data and utilizes geographic information systems (GIS) technology to generate maps and other presentation formats allowing users to understand growth, trends, and patterns with data.

The Center for Regional Studies and the Bureau of Business and Economic Research are part of the University's College of Business.


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