Case study Seattle

Today is June 2, 1998, and you are the advisor to Alan Painter, Director of the Community Services Division of the Department of Housing and Human Services; Alan has worked on the design and implementation of services and programs to assist homeless people for over a decade. You are just leaving the press conference in which the Mayor announced his “ZERO HOMELESS FAMILY PLEDGE.” (Neither you nor Alan were aware of the content of the press conference before you heard it “live”!)

You and Painter understand the political power of counting and publicly emphasizing the size of the homeless population in Seattle. Even so, the practice makes both of you uncomfortable. Schell’s pledge raises the stakes and the scrutiny of the homeless street count. You wonder what effect the pledge will have on the supply and demand for shelter space. Even if additional shelter space is developed, you fear that some of the target population still might choose the streets. Furthermore, factors beyond the City’s control have a significant impact on the number of homeless people.

According to the best estimates, of the 1,300 homeless people living on the streets without shelter on a given night, over 700 are homeless families with children or single women in Seattle, the categories described in Schell’s pledge. You wonder what it will take to bring that number down to zero. You also wonder who will be counting and how they will do so.

In this case your Report should propose (to Alan Painter) a detailed (and well justified) “action plan,” that Alan will make to the Mayor, in which you/he will set forth your proposal for fulfilling the Mayor’s pledge. Make sure you address how you will resolve the several competing tensions in the case.

How much money do you have to spend?
Not much. But exactly how much depends on Seattle’s fiscal year.
You can re-prioritize some proportion of Alan’s budget (and Alan’s effort), but not all of it. And much of what Alan/you are presently doing in your shop already is addressing the problem. But, see bullet above, do you have a full year’s budget to re-prioritize, or is a portion of it already spent.
Can you only spend “your” money?
Your recommendation is to the Mayor. Thus, you can suggest he spend some of the money under his control. While he has more money, many of the same constraints above apply. Can he lay off all the police and firefighters to address his Homeless Pledge?
What about the grant?
Who was the grant awarded to?
What about the multi-year bond money?
What was the specific purpose of the bond?
Can the bond money help you without putting you behind bars? (You don’t want to go to jail do you?)
I didn’t say there was no money from these sources, but make sure you can justify what you want to use.
As Alan Painter, you care about the “long term” solution to the homeless issue. But that is not the problem right now.
You would, however, like to do minimal harm to current efforts at long term solutions.
I said you didn’t have much money, but perhaps you have “resources”?
Perhaps the Mayor has resources?
Who are your friends in this battle? Your enemies?
How willing will the King County Exec and Council be to help Seattle’s Mayor?
Think about what you know about the homeless from your knowledge and experience. Think about what you know about City/County/State politics from your experience

Sample Solution