Reducing Homelessness and Urban Panhandling


The Problem

The annual cost to the public to provide shelter, food and healthcare to those who are homeless is estimated at $40,000 per person. The unrecoverable financial burden to law enforcement, retail establishments and tourism is incalculable, but expected to be higher. 59% of businesses, residents and visitors surveyed claim that panhandling and homelessness in Detroit erodes the sense of safety and security they expect. Detroit has 20,000 homeless people and the central business district sees 66 panhandlers daily. Though Detroit has 33 social service providers that attend to the needs of the homeless population through restricted budgets and gallant efforts, there remains a lapse in service to those that require outreach and guidance.

The Solution

A scorecard-driven and highly researched social enterprise that is private and philanthropically funded that reduces homelessness in Detroit by 22% (4,335 people). Central to this holistic strategy is to stimulate an organic and empowering relationship between city residents and homeless persons through art, reverse the social standing of the disenfranchised from one of taking to that of giving by promoting Detroit’s downtown assets, provide an effective income opportunity with long term solutions, incent social service providers to ensure basic needs service provisions through funding recommendations to local and cooperating corporations, and leverage the strength of volunteers to support the emotional and social transition from being marginalized to being independent.

The Impact

A successful enterprise will decrease costly and inappropriately directed law enforcement interventions from public safety for those who are deemed a public nuisance and need social assistance. This strategy will also support retail establishments and their customers for hassle-free access, it will promote positive Detroit branding and support visitor attraction and information. The financial impact of this strategy will be an 87% adjusted cost reduction to $5,070 per person annually.