Pay the homeless  MAR 03 2011

If a small experiment conducted in London is any indication, a cost effective way to help the homeless may be to simply give them money.

One asked for a new pair of trainers and a television; another for a caravan on a travellers' site in Suffolk, which was duly bought for him. Of the 13 people who engaged with the scheme, 11 have moved off the streets. The outlay averaged £794 ($1,277) per person (on top of the project's staff costs). None wanted their money spent on drink, drugs or bets. Several said they co-operated because they were offered control over their lives rather than being "bullied" into hostels. Howard Sinclair of Broadway explains: "We just said, 'It's your life and up to you to do what you want with it, but we are here to help if you want.'"

£794 per person may sound high but not compared to the estimated £26,000 annually spent on each homeless person by the state.

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