Faith-based organizations are at the forefront of addressing root causes of homelessness, providing not only the majority of emergency shelter beds but innovating long-term solutions, a recent study by Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion concludes. The study looked at homelessness in 11 sample cities and is part of a growing body of independent research examining the socio-economic impact of largely overlooked faith-based organizations across the United States.
According to this study, faith-based organizations provide 58 percent of emergency shelter beds in the 11 cities surveyed across the nation, in addition to providing an array of vital services and personalized interventions necessary for long-term recovery and independence. These services include, but are not limited to, education, healthcare, job training and addiction recovery. As a result, the study estimates that faith-based organizations create $9.42 in taxpayer savings for every $1 invested by the government. It further shows an estimated $119 million in tax savings in the 11 cities during the three years following implementation of faith-based Residential Recovery and Job Readiness programs.
The study reveals that in most cases, people become homeless due to a range of complex personal and societal factors, not just because they cannot afford a home. It concludes that faith-based organizations are in a unique position to treat the systemic issues that create homelessness to develop sustainable solutions for both individuals and municipalities. The research also illuminates how collaboration among faith-based, community groups, private industry, and local, state and federal government agencies creates the strongest responses to homelessness and its underlying issues.