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Assignment 3, the Concept of Program Reengineering

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Could you ever experience a flood, fire, tornado, or other natural disaster?
Do you work in an area of the economy where your job might become obsolete? Could you ever suffer from a long-term illness or accident without proper health benefits or other compensations? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are not immune to homelessness. These questions are not meant to create alarm, but rather to spread awareness that people experiencing homelessness are people just like us. They desire financial stability and a secure home, but have confronted difficult circumstances without sufficient resources to overcome the situation and remain housed. Unfortunately, that is the reality of homelessness today. Typically, families become homeless as a result of some unforeseen financial crisis - a medical emergency, a car accident, a death in the family - that prevents them from being able to hold on to housing. Most homeless families are able to bounce back from homelessness quickly, with relatively little public assistance. Usually, homeless families require rent assistance, housing placement services, job assistance, and other short-term, one-time services before being able to return to independence and stability. In the case study, "Mayor Schell's Zero Homeless Family Pledge", Norton discusses the challenges facing a policy manager in a large city (Seattle) government agency who is expected to implement a bold new policy to reduce homelessness that may exceed the local government's capacity to address the issue. In the case, the mayor of Seattle pledges in June that there will be no homeless families with children or homeless women by Christmas. The manager in the case, Alan Painter, shares the mayor's commitment and enthusiasm for reducing homelessness in the city, but has many concerns about the feasibility of the mayor's pledge. Painter knows the current strategies and capacities of the city to address homelessness, but now must develop a strategy to fulfill this new pledge. The case describes homelessness in Seattle, current programs and strategies implemented by the city government, and the mayor's pledge. The case ends with Painter wondering how his agency and the city will respond to the mayor's pledge. In this paper, we will analyze the policies and strategies within Mayor Schell's administration and the impact by his pledge had on the community.

In 1998, Seattle Washington Mayor Paul Schell spoke to the press about the needs of homeless families, women and children. He asked City Council to support providing immediate emergency assistance to homeless families and single women. He also made a firm pledge that by Christmas 1998, there would be no homeless families or homeless single women on the streets of Seattle. Seattle citizens approved two significant property tax increases to support low income housing during the 1980s, raising $50 million in 1981 and another $50 million in 1986. Since then, Seattle has had a financial commitment to fight the problem of homelessness. Each year in King County, many millions of dollars are devoted to addressing homelessness. Major funders include the federal, state, city and county governments. The United Way, public housing authorities and private foundations have also contributed to the cause. Each year the total funding received to operate and support homeless shelters in King County exceeds $6 million. Also, $8 million is allocated each year for transitional housing units (91% of all these units are in Seattle). In 1998, Seattle spent almost $8 million serving the homeless. This total included $4 million spent on emergency shelters and transitional housing, $1 million for emergency food services and $1 million for social services related to housing. The City has helped fund the development of more than 4,000 units of permanent low-income housing since 1987. The mayor tried to implement policies that were best for the traditional residents and the homeless residents of the city. Although thousands of people seeking shelter are turned away each year, due to lack of space, he wanted to maintain the shelter capacity. Because increasing shelter capacity is expensive, maintaining the capacity would allow additional resources to flow to other needed services and housing, like improving the condition of the existing shelters and programs to assist homeless people. Because families or individuals staying in a homeless shelter is only a temporary solution, he wanted people to take advantage of the housing and services that help people regain long-term stability and address the causes of homelessness (Norton, 2006).
This strategy helped to emphasize the services to homeless people, like transitional housing,

employment services, and assistance in transition into permanent housing, whether than just providing a bed. Once people enter permanent housing, he also emphasized the need to follow clients as they get situated into their permanent housing (Norton, 2006). Mayor Schell stated that he would convene a housing summit in an effort to tackle homelessness issues – “Schell promised to convene a housing summit immediately after his inauguration to develop strategies to address the unmet demand for affordable housing” (Norton, 2006). Having direct resources available toward sub-groups of those who are underserved relative to others was another approch of Schell. These people include children in homeless families, single men, and both youth and adults who are leaving institutional settings (Norton, 2006). While circumstances can vary, the main reason people experience homelessness is because they cannot find housing they can afford. It is the scarcity of affordable housing in the United States, particularly in more urban areas where homelessness is more prevalent, that is behind their inability to acquire or maintain housing. According to the case study, there are three major factors that contribute to the homelessness rate in King County. Inadequate income, the high price of housing, personal or family problems such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental illness all factors regarding homelessness (Norton, 2006). In an interview, Mayor Paul Schell stated, " In many ways we are probably the richest city in the country right now on a per capita basis, especially if you include our high-tech center on the East side of the lake, but the fact that we've got longer food lines than we've ever had before, more people looking for places to stay, everybody's paying the cost of success in increased housing prices, increased transportation congestion, and this can't be. We need to find a way to be sure that everybody has a chance to share in the prosperity" (pbs.org, 2009). From the beginning, many were skeptical of Mayor Paul Schell's promise. For example, according to an article in the Seattle Weekly, the city's decision to emphasize motel vouchers was quite controversial. " The accommodations are not the safest for young children—two

preteen sisters, in fact, disappeared from one of the main voucher motels, the Crest on Aurora Avenue, in 1996, their bones turning up in a Bothell field last summer. "I have families calling me and crying about these places," says Korey Wilder, who runs a shelter at the East Cherry Street YMCA. Parents sometimes complain to her that while they're out looking for work, peddlers and other suspicious strangers pester their children back at the motel. (A spokesperson for the Crest, on the other hand, accuses the families themselves of rowdiness and troublemaking.)" (Seattleweekly.com, 1998). In conclusion, the homeless epidemic in Seattle still exists. A recent article in the "Village Voice", discusses the problems that seattle is having regarding housing. "We're in crisis mode, and if we don't do something over the next 16 months, then we're going to be left with a situation that's going to be getting worse, not better -- under a new administration," says Councilman Stephen Levin (Villagevoice.com, 2012). Despite Mayor Paul Schell's best efforts, it looks like new strategies are needed in order to get the issue of homelessness in Seattle under control.

References

Norton, E. (2006). Mayor Schell's Zero Homelessness Family Pledge. Seattle: The Electronic Hallway.
Seattle Homelessness. 2009. Retrieved on November 20th, 2012 from http://www.pbs.org/newshour.

No Home For The Holidays. 1998. Retrieved on November 20th, 2012 from http://www.seattleweekly.com.
City Council to Mayor's Administration: Stop Blaming Homelessness Epidemic on State Legislature and the Economy. 2012. Retrieved on November 26th, 2012 from http://www.villagevoice.com.…...

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