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John Lamb, Published November 26 2010

Report: Cooper House reducing costs related to homelessness

Cooper House, Fargo’s attempt to put a roof over some of its chronically homeless, has been a success since opening in May, according to the executive director of the Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Lynn Fundingsland said the facility at 414 11th St. N. has “exceeded expectations.”

The Housing Authority recently released an “Initial Impact Report” outlining the economic impact of the facility.

The analysis, information for which was collected in August, is based on before-and-after comparisons of services used by 29 people in the year before they entered Cooper House.

The study shows a 33 percent drop from the $43,355 spent on health care and medicine costs and a 51 percent decrease in legal and law enforcement costs.

“It’s a huge asset to the local police departments,” Fundingsland said of Cooper House.

Also noted is an 86 percent drop in detox costs.

Others involved in fighting homelessness in the area still have questions about the building.

Laurie Baker, executive director of the Fargo-Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Persons, says she’s concerned about the eviction rate at Cooper House.

Fundingsland said five or six people have been kicked out of the complex because of behavioral issues.

Still, he said the facility has been a success and that a group from Sioux Falls, S.D., has been up to look at Cooper House as a model for that city. “We’ve improved a lot of lives and saved a lot of dollars,” he said.

Another study will be done at the end of this year and after the facility’s one-year anniversary next summer.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533