Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Philly Mayor Proposes Plan for Homeless

Philadelphia's new Democrat elect Mayor has big hopes for the homeless and vagrant in Philadelphia.

What's his solution you might ask?

Give them somewhere to live at tax-payer expense of course. After all when you rob Peter to pay Paul, Paul rarely has a problem with that.

Phila. Mayor unveils major plan to help homeless
Mayor Nutter announced a plan this morning that would add 700 housing units for homeless people by combining the resources of the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the city.
Today he proposed a four million dollar ($4,000,000) plan (with an estimated cost of 8+ Million by 2009) to expand housing units for the homeless. His solution would provide some 300 housing units for families and couples, 200 for individuals, 175 for the 'chronic homeless' (i.e. vagrants) with the remaining 75 for those with 'acute' drug addictions and 'behavioral health problems.'

As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes when times are tough people can use an extra hand to get back on their feet (though I'd prefer the hand reach out from from private citizens, entities, and not the government).

However, this free or low-cost housing being proposed with no strings attached is completely irresponsible. In my opinion, this is not a responsible plan.

I pay Philly wage tax, I pay the extra 1% Philly sales tax, and frankly I'm not comfortable seeing my hard earned money go to subsidize someone's housing especially with no expectation that they'll work their way out of being homeless and needing taxpayer subsidized housing. I really wouldn't have a problem with his proposal if he removed the extra 75 beds for 'acute' drug addicted and 'behavioral health problem' vagrants and attached a time limit; expectations; and gradually increasing rent to for this plan.

Here's my preliminary idea. I didn't give it a whole lot of thought, but until Mayor Nutter unveils his full plan I think this is at least as good as what he's thinking.
  1. First 6 Months: Low or 'No' cost (to renter) (should have a sponsor willing to help find employment--and if previously drug/alcohol addicted currently enrolled and active in NA/AA/12-step program)
  2. Next 6 Months: Low cost (possibly 25% or less for rent for similar housing) (renter must maintain a checking and savings account and participate in free money management/parenting/enrichment workshops, must maintain a full time job for at least 5 of 6 previous months)
  3. Next 1 yr: Slightly Higher Cost (possibly 40% rent for similar housing) (must maintain full-time employment from hence forth)
  4. Next 1 yr: Higher Cost (75%)
  5. Next 1 yr: Full Cost (100%) with renter given choice to move out and find own housing or pay current rates for housing of type for the location.

This is my simple laymen's plan. Not only does it give the homeless that want to change their situation a helping hand, but it sets goals; has a progression; and most importantly expectations.

The idea is that no person should be allowed to apply for one of these subsidized housing units without a sponsor and character references pledging that they are drug-free and wanting to change their situation. The ultimate goal is that no person should be allowed to stay for more than 4 years at the tax-payer expense.

There's plenty of cheap real estate in Philadelphia (though probably not in the best neighborhoods) for a philanthropist funder to help relieve the burden from the government by charging for the purchase and renovation of the property and housing units.

However, regarding the 75 units/beds for those with drug addictions and 'behavioral health problems', I think I have to agree with Michael Medved's often held position regarding the homeless. It'd be more humane to check them into a mental hospital where they can be treated/rehabilitated and cared for.

That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

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