- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Officials in Lexington are preparing to start a housing program for chronically homeless people living in the city.

The Lexington Herald-Leader (https://bit.ly/1GqFE7n) reports the city has already approved a $750,000 contract for the Hope Center to provide housing and support services to 20 people through its Housing First program. Hope Center Director of Programs David Shadd says interviews are ongoing for two case managers for the project.

Meanwhile, city officials are also considering a contract with the University of Kentucky, which would determine the success and cost-effectiveness of the pilot program.

Officials are aiming to have some people in homes by early next year.

The Housing First program has been pushed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a successful model for people are aren’t helped by shelters.

Charlie Lanter, the city’s director of the office of homelessness prevention and intervention, says preliminary studies show that it would cost more to leave chronically homeless people on the street than it does for the program.

Lanter said the UK study would likely provide one of the most detailed students in the country of the costs and benefits of Housing First.

“HUD knows we are doing this, and they are excited about it,” Lanter said of the UK analysis. “It could become a national model.”

Chris Bollinger, executive director of U.K.’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said officials haven’t done much cost evaluation with the service.

“This program may look very expensive, but it may actually have better outcomes,” he said.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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