Counting The Homeless : Planet Money From renting hotels to a jobs report-like census in the night, we look at ways communities are helping the homeless.

Counting The Homeless

Counting The Homeless

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Volunteers count homeless people on Skid Row. David McNew/Getty Images hide caption

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David McNew/Getty Images

Volunteers count homeless people on Skid Row.

David McNew/Getty Images

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.

Music: "You Got Me Started," "Spinning Piano," "Pyramid Thoughts,"and "Road to Cevennes."

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Correction May 21, 2019

A previous version of this show stated that Phoenix had housed every homeless veteran. But according to Community Solutions, although there is funding to house all veterans, not every homeless veteran has been housed.