NPR's Planet Money: Counting The Homeless

Volunteers count homeless people on Skid Row.
May 17, 2019
By SARAH GONZALEZ and SALLY HELM

New York City is legally obligated to find a bed for every person who needs one, every night of the year.

So, when homeless shelters fill up, the city turns to the next best thing: Hotels. The city spends millions renting out entire blocks of hotel rooms.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Research suggests that the most cost-effective way to address homelessness may not be investing in temporary shelters or hotels, but providing rental assistance.

Today on the show, we trace three efforts to address homelessness in America. Including one of the most obvious yet thorniest challenges to getting people off the street: Counting the homeless.