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Homelessness in Niceville
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Homelessness in Niceville

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  • 1. Homelessness In Niceville Confidential Instructions for the Ledbetter Foundation Representative The Ledbetter Foundation is in a unique position to help improve the conditions for homeless individuals in Niceville. You have been instructed by your Board of Trustees to prepare a package of proposals for a one time $500,000 grant. The grant can be split to cover multiple projects. A main goal of the Board of Trustees is to help build some bridges between different groups working on homeless issues in Niceville. The Board is likely to go along with any package you put together as long as four out of five participants at the meeting endorse it. You are very anxious to show the Board that you have the skills to bring together a group with divergent interests. In the past the Foundation has been criticized for not making sufficient effort to include community or technical advisors in its decisions. This is a chance for you to prove to your Board that such a process of consultation is not only possible, but helpful. You have been working for some time to convince the Board that the Foundation should get involved with homelessness and other social issues. Since the newspaper homeless poll was published the issue has attracted increased media attention. The Board decided to take your advice, and offer funds both to address homelessness and to gain favorable publicity for the Foundation. This is your chance to prove that the Foundation an be effective in addressing social problems and that it can play a leadership role as a facilitator. The Board has identified criteria it will use to evaluate the package you present: 1. Accountability: Those who receive money must have the capacity and the inclination to be completely accountable. 2. Efficiency: The money should generate the greatest possible “bang for the buck.” 3. Leverage: The Board would like to see its funding leverage other funds. 4. Speed: Decisions and projects need to produce results quickly.
  • 2. Homelessness In Niceville Confidential Instructions for the Chairperson of the Community Service League After five years of hard work the league is beginning to achieve the prominence in the neighborhood that you envisioned at its inception. You are a retired doctor who has always been active in town politics. The league now has on hundred active members as well as a list of 250 who have supported the league in some way. The league’s goals of solving problems through volunteerism and community involvement have been successfully achieved through a number of projects, including park cleanups, a recycling program, and a child-care center. The city has donated a former school building to the league for its projects. Its top priority is to use the school building to offer services to the homeless. The league is anxious to convert part of the school building into a twenty-bed homeless shelter. The goal of the league’s shelter would be to provide its residents with a nurturing, supportive environment that would enable them to build self-esteem and eventually become self-sufficient. The league requires $300,000 to convert the building and will have to cover operating costs of $200,000 per year. You know through a personal contact in the governor’s office that the governor has approved an additional yearly $250,000 fund for distribution by the Homeless Task Force. You feel that more personal care in a smaller, better managed shelter will enable the homeless to get back on their feet. You feel that the league and the Ledbetter Foundation have common goals and that the foundation should be supportive of your initiative. The foundation partially funds the league’s child-care program. Your limited contact with the Homeless Union has been positive. The league’s child-care project includes the children of homeless and formerly homeless mothers. However, you are concerned that the union is more interested in political grandstanding than with achieving real results for its members. You are uncomfortable with the union’s use of confrontation techniques to achieve its results. You are also worried that union members are often substance abusers. The league was formed partly out of disappointment with the Homeowners Association. You were raised in Niceville and had a private practice here before retiring five years ago. Though your relations with the chair of the Homeowners Association have always been cordial, you feel that the group has stood in the way of community development. The associations selfishness does not reflect the generous nature of the community of Niceville.
  • 3. Homelessness In Niceville Confidential Instructions for the Director of Governor’s Task Force on Homelessness The Governor’s Task Force on Homelessness directs the State’s homeless initiatives. It partially funds the 3rd Ave. Service Center and coordinates homeless initiatives and projects throughout the state. The Governor is very concerned about the publicity Niceville has been getting concerning its homeless problem. The Task Force was created to take a proactive stance on homeless issues and avoid the type of negative publicity generated by the newspaper poll. The governor is especially concerned because she is currently negotiating a deal to open a textile manufacturing plant near Niceville. Your job is to take a lead role in the solution to Niceville’s homeless problem without compromising the Governor’s other interests. As a long-time homeless advocate, your professional opinion is that the Ledbetter Foundation’s funds should be used for outreach, mental health, physical health and substance abuse programs. Increasing the number of shelter beds does not address the long-term goal of getting people off the street. Long-term programs to get people off the street should be the priority. Job training/self-sufficiency programs can counteract the project growth of the homeless population. The Food Service Training program is an excellent idea, but it should not be administered by the 3rd Ave. Service Center. You are very concerned about what happens when Foundation money runs out. You do not want the State to have to assume responsibility to continue funding a project started by the Foundation. However, the Task Force has $250,000 per year to support a new project. The money must be used for job training or other service delivery, it cannot be used for a new shelter or increasing capacity at the Service Center. The Task Force projects a 10 percent rise in the homeless population in the next year. This estimate comes from a joint Task Force and Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development study. You will reluctantly back an expansion of beds only if the expansion is less than 20 beds and the beds are located at the existing shelter. The politics of the situation are also of deep concern to the Governor. Whatever is done cannot be at the expense of business or the neighborhood. The Governor has specifically instructed you to try and appease the Homeowner’s Association, but you know from past experience that the Homeless Union is Capable of generating enormous negative publicity. The Governor feels that moving the Union’s Food Service from Straley Park is a priority. You must help find a way of accomplishing this without angering the Homeless Union. The fact is that the Homeless Union has been a political nightmare for the Governor’s Office. The Union has a long history of protesting at City Council meetings and going to the press with accounts of government failure. Indeed, it was one of the main reasons for the creation of the Task Force. You are wary of the fiscal and professional accountability of the Union in actually running projects. You also do not agree with the Union’s use of strict discipline. You worry about how the Union uses its power over its members.
  • 4. Homelessness In Niceville Confidential Instructions for the Representative of the Homeless Union, Advocacy Group As a founding member of the Homeless Union you have an important part to play in any decision made today. You represent the Union, but as a former homeless person you also represent the interests of the homeless population directly. You have developed, with the Union, a system of self-improvement based on discipline. Members of the Union are forced to stop all substance abuse and to conform to a strict regimen which instills self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Your group is also active in promoting political awareness of homeless issues. You count among your personal successes generating the publicity which helped force the Governor to create the Task Force on Homelessness. However, you feel that the governor should have made you a member of the Task Force. As a veteran you feel strongly that the government should be involved in providing services for the homeless. However, you feel that the 3rd Ave. Services Center is needlessly bureaucratic and unresponsive to the needs of the residents. You feel that the Center, and other services for the homeless, can be run more successfully by the homeless themselves. The Operator of the Center has always reacted defensively towards the Union. For eight years your organization has run a hot meal program in Straley Park. Food is donated from local restaurants and grocery stores, and cooked using equipment which was donated by local charities. The Union has a permit from the Municipal government to use the park. You view any move to shut down this service as a hostile act. However, the Union would be willing to make changes in the program if a better alternative emerged. The Union proposes the creation of a shelter run by the homeless themselves. The present shelter and government programs are run by people too far removed to understand the best ways to help the homeless. A new initiative should create a shelter controlled and run by the homeless. The Union needs $500,000 start-up money for a self-run and self-financed 40 bed homeless facility. Government financed shelters are unsafe and unstructured. Shelter providers are paternal, more concerned with their institution than with the people they are supposed to serve. The Union would run a shelter based on self-help and strict substance abuse programs; homeless volunteers would staff and run the facility. You are willing to have a smaller shelter, but it is important to make clear that the Union is capable of running a shelter of significant size. You know from personal experience that the “official” statistics on homelessness underestimate the true homeless population. The Union is in the process of choosing possible sites for the new shelter, including an unoccupied residential apartment building and a hotel building. The Foundation is an excellent source of funds because it will not try and take control of the program. The priorities of the Union are to prove its administrative ability and to take a more active role in the homeless community. The school building is a good site for the new shelter, but the Union differs greatly with the Community Service League on how the shelter should be run. In your opinion, the League’s goals of self-reliance through nurturing is paternalistic and disempowers the homeless. The Union could accept sharing responsibility for the shelter with the League, as long as the Union’s core values of discipline and self-reliance are followed. Your bottom line is that the Union must play an active role in the administration of either a new shelter or food service/job training program. You are willing to settle on less than 40 new beds, but remember that the emergency services needs cannot be overlooked. Nights that the shelter is at full capacity, there are people out on the streets.
  • 5. HOMELESSNESS IN NICEVILLE Confidential Instructions for the Shelter Operator, 3rd Ave. Service Center The Center is a non-government organization with a $1 million annual budget. The municipal government contributes $600,000, and $400,000 in state funds come directly through the Governor’s Office. The Center is located in a downtown area away from residential neighborhoods in Niceville. In your opinion more beds and training programs are necessary. The grant should be used to provide shelter and training through the most efficient means possible, the 3rd Ave. Service Center. For 30 years the Center has met the needs of Niceville’s homeless. You have worked at the Center for 20 of those years and have been the director the past nine years. As a social worker and the administrator of the Center you understand the importance of programs and services, as well as the politics involved. Criticism of the Center is hardly a new phenomenon, but since the publishing of the Homeless Poll the Center has come under increasing attack. You are the first to admit that the Center needs more resources. However, the homeless population in Niceville is mainly transient and though some have been constant residents of the Center over the years, most come and go. The Center is able to meet the needs of residents on all except the coldest nights of winter, or on those occasions when a particularly large number of homeless are in town. The Center is filled to capacity 50 nights a year and is over capacity 10 to 15 nights a year. Based on your personal experience, expanding the capacity by 20 extra beds is a good idea, although 10 would probably suffice. Though job training is an important long term goal, expansion is necessary to meet the demand for emergency services. The renovation of the building is not a priority in its own right; however, you recognize that the Homeowner’s Association could be an ally if you went this route. You have proposed two different projects for the grant money. You should pursue both, but in the end you will use the one that is most acceptable to the group. Most of the parties at the table do not adequately value the Center and are willing to exclude it from receiving grant funds. You must assert the Center’s central role in providing services to the homeless. The Center could use funds to expand current operations and to renovate. The Center is very efficient in terms of beds per night per dollar. The Center is under-funded so there is also a need for maintenance and upkeep. Budgets which have not kept up with increasing demands are the reason for the increasing visibility of homeless in town. The Center currently has 100 beds and can be expanded at a cost of $10,000 per bed (up to 20 beds). Renovations of the building, which are important to keep neighbors happy, would cost $200,000. A second proposal focuses on using the grant as seed money for a new initiative to develop a self- sustaining food service training program. The Center presently has very limited facilities to prepare food for residents. A food service training program would not only make food available to inhabitants of the Center, but would also train the homeless for jobs in the community. The cost of this program would be $300,000 for equipment and $200,000 a year for operating costs. The Center has received donations for blankets and Thanksgiving turkeys from the Ledbetter Foundation in the past, and is skeptical of one-time donations. However, this is an opportunity to prove that the Center is the most important homeless service in town. The Homeless Union does not represent the entire homeless population. Empowering the mentally ill and substance abusers can be dangerous, as many are chronically dysfunctional. The Community Service League means well, but it is inexperienced. The Center needs to do more to include the League in its operations. The League is also an excellent source of donations, volunteers and good publicity.
  • 6. HOMELESSNESS IN NICEVILLE Confidential Instructions for the Chair of the Niceville Homeowners Association As the Chair of the Niceville Homeowners Association your job at this meeting is to press the point that the overall goal of the grant is to improve Niceville as a city. The solution to homelessness is to attract new business and build up the local economy so that everyone can have decent jobs. More police protection is important, too. The community fears the homeless that live in shelters. Stricter enforcement of the panhandling ordinance is also very important. As the former mayor of Niceville you understand how complicated the homeless issue is. It is important to take some action to help solve the homeless problems of Niceville, but the root of the problem is the visibility of the homeless in town. Both the Third Avenue Service Center and the Homeless Union’s Straley Park food service are eyesores. The association has two priorities. The food service run by the Homeless Union should be moved out of Straley Park to a different site so the park can be cleaned up. The Third Avenue Service Center building should be renovated. The Association is willing to provide $50,000 toward the renovation. You are dead set against creating new shelters in the neighborhoods. This town already has a shelter with enough capacity for the homeless population. The former school building should be used for a community center. Expanding the present shelter is undesirable but is an acceptable trade-off if the renovation of the building could be completed. Your group is against a shelter run by homeless because empowering the mentally ill and substance abusers can be dangerous. Many of the homeless are dysfunctional and should be cared for by professionals. However, you approve of the Homeless Union’s use of discipline and self-reliance. The Ledbetter Foundation has done lots of good work in the community, but the homeless issue is outside of its expertise. The foundation should be concerned with broad community issues, not just homelessness. The school cannot be used as the site of a new shelter. It is located in a residential neighborhood. It should be used as a community center. The Community Service League is doing good work, but it does not represent a large proportion of the Niceville population. The governor’s Task Force on Homelessness was set up primarily to appease the Homeless Union and represents the governor’s political interests, not necessarily the economic interests of Niceville. It is important that you try to convince the Task Force director that the association represents an important constituency for the Governor. You should try to have a private discussion early in the meeting with the Task Force director to get assurances that there will be no new shelters or beds. You will accept ten new beds at the Third Avenue Service Center, but only if renovations are completed.

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