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Comparative Cost Analysis of Housing and Case Management Program for Chronically Ill Homeless Adults Compared to Usual Care


Address correspondence to Anirban Basu, Department of Health Services and PORPP, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific St, Box-357660, Seattle, WA 98195-7660; e-mail: Anirban Basu is also with the the National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge MA.



To assess the costs of a housing and case management program in a novel sample—homeless adults with chronic medical illnesses.

Data Source

The study used data from multiple sources: (1) electronic medical records for hospital, emergency room, and ambulatory medical and mental health visits; (2) institutional and regional databases for days in respite centers, jails, or prisons; and (3) interviews for days in nursing homes, shelters, substance abuse treatment centers, and case manager visits. Total costs were estimated using unit costs for each service.

Study Design

Randomized controlled trial of 407 homeless adults with chronic medical illnesses enrolled at two hospitals in Chicago, Illinois, and followed for 18 months.

Principal Findings

Compared to usual care, the intervention group generated an average annual cost savings of (−)$6,307 per person (95 percent CI: −16,616, 4,002; p = .23). Subgroup analyses of chronically homeless and those with HIV showed higher per person, annual cost savings of (−)$9,809 and (−)$6,622, respectively. Results were robust to sensitivity analysis using unit costs.


The findings of this comprehensive, comparative cost analyses demonstrated an important average annual savings, though in this underpowered study these savings did not achieve statistical significance.