1,286 Unhoused People Died in Maricopa County in 2022

02/15/2023 by Michael Simm

We learned from the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Committee meeting on February 8th, that 1,286 people suffering from homelessness died in Maricopa County last year. Since 2022's Point-in-Time Count of homelessness in Maricopa County counted 9,026 people, Maricopa County officially had an annual mortality rate well in excess of 10%.

Deaths / Total Homeless Population: 1,286/9,026 = 14.2%

This devastating news is a reminder of the urgency of the homelessness crisis in our community. The fact that so many of our unhoused neighbours are dying on the streets and in shelters is unacceptable. It highlights the need for bold and effective action to end homelessness and ensure that everyone in our community has access to basic stability.

To that end, we've seen strong evidence that guaranteed income is the most cost-effective and dignified way to help our unhoused neighbours regain stability. We (The Logical Foundation) are working to demonstrate through our Maximum Impact Pilot that we can help most unhoused people regain housing & financial stability with $6,000 to $12,000 in dignified and direct cash assistance.

$12,000 per person sounds like a lot, but it is a tiny fraction of the economic and humanitarian costs we constantly incur.

Death is an incalculable loss to friends and family, but scientists and statisticians have been attempting to put a price on preventing deaths for a century. The lowest government calculation of what it's worth to prevent a life is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at $7.5 Million.

So how much did preventable homeless deaths cost us in 2022?

14.2% of the homeless population died in Maricopa County in 2022. The U.S. has an average annual death rate of just over 1% per year. Factoring out the normal death rate, homelessness itself results in an extra 13.2% chance of death every year.

Preventable Homeless Deaths = 9,026 * 13.2% = 1191
Multiplied by FEMA's Cost of Preventable Death = $7.5M * 1191 = $8.93B

Preventable Homeless Deaths cost Maricopa County $8.9 Billion in 2022.

$8.9 Billion is more than 10 times the annual Phoenix Police Department budget. It would cost Maricopa County only 1.2% of the death cost ($108 Million) to provide every single person suffering from homelessness in the county a guaranteed income of $1,000 a month for a year.

Guaranteed income - direct and dignified recurring cash assistance - is the first realistic solution out there to successfully end the homelessness crisis and reduce poverty at scale. The Logical Foundation was built to unleash the massive anti-poverty potential of guaranteed income and conduct rigorous benchmarking research to compare it to conventional approaches. We hope to shift nonprofit resources towards the most impactful proven interventions and demonstrate the impact of directly empowering people in need.

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