Thursday, October 13, 2016

Put together some "market based" thinking in an email to O'Brien regarding his bill. Feel free to use any of it.

Not sure if this is helpful and no need to upvote, but if any of you are writing letters to our council, I just put this together and it attempts to address some core issues from a business/market/management perspective. Since O'Brien is a UW MBA, I figured I'd attempt this to see if it resonates. Feel free to use any of it in your own letters:I was hoping I better understand your position regarding your homelessness stance. While having compassion is important, I fear that it is blinding the discussion from the realities of the situation, which helps no one as it leads to solutions not grounded in reality. To look at it, I want to address the "market landscape", incentive structure, ROI, and opportunity cost. I will keep it organized in sections, as I'm sure you're being barraged with emails. Also, I'm not trying to yell or be angry or anything, I just want to lay out how this situation looks to me and highlight some areas your plan does not address, and potentially how to think about them. I am neither an R or D, just a citizen who loves thinking about "system problems" and cares about the future of our city, and would like to have an intellectual discussion"Market Landscape": There are homeless people in our city that have found themselves in this situation and deserve to be helped out of it. There are also homeless people that are chronically homeless due to their aggressive nature (my girlfriend was attacked by one and only made it out ok because she was walking our 70lb Malamute mix who defended her aggressively), and those who are drug addicted and refuse any help, and are here to freeload.The first goal should be to identify and separate these populations. For those who want help and benefit from it, we should prioritize actual housing, job retraining, and MOST IMPORTANTLY rebates for application fees for places and co-signing for homeless people with bad credit. After speaking with homeless families, I learned that one of the biggest barriers is the application fees and being rejected for a previous eviction. If we can eliminate these barriers for these people, we will do a significant amount to get them back on their feet with little risk to our city and taxpayers. For those who are dangerous, refuse help, and are violent or addicted to herion/crack others, we should offer support to get their lives back on track, but we should be aggressive in fighting that lifestyle and have a zero acceptance policy with regards to it. We will not be able to help them if we provide an environment to perpetuate that lifestyle.Incentive Structure: Homeless people don't live in a bubble and are naturally able to communicate using the internet, phones, and other modern technologies. Because of this word travels. If we provide a welcoming environment for all homeless, including the "urban transients" as Denver's mayor calls them, we will only attract more. Surely you understand how incentives impact behavior from your MBA studies at UW, so naturally, that logic applies here. If we provide free trash services, guaranteed places to sleep outdoors, and exceptionally generous (and unjustified) lifestyle protection at the cost of our shared urban spaces we pay for with tax dollars, we are incentivizing two things that harm this city. First, we incentivize more homeless to move here to live off the city's tax payers and it is likely those attracted to this city for its liberal outdoor camping policies will not be well-meaning. Second, and much worse, we incentivize those to continue their lifestyle. That means that more overdoses will happen, more property crime will happen, and given our self-defense laws in this state, more people will probably use their CPLs and more justified shootings will happen, which will then lead to more aggressive and deadly actions by the homeless people who are not trying to get back on their feet. I beg of you, please map our the incentive structure of all participants and market actors in your legislation and it will quickly show we will not encourage the actions we want, but rather encourage all the actions that exacerbate the problem.ROI and Opportunity Cost I was reading that current spending on homeless is about $1400/mo/homeless person. To me that seems high considering the spending has largely only perpetuated that lifestyle and attracted more homeless to our city (40% increase over the past few years). In addition, all the spending we are doing is attacking the symptoms of the problems, which I'm sure you understand does not provide long term solutions. Given that we have an overall budget for the city, spending in one area creates an opportunity cost in another. For example, one of the biggest positive actions you can do to a population is to make early childhood care and education universally available regardless of income. If we were to do it on a national scale, it would create an additional annual $2.73 Trillion to the national GDP after 75 years. The Chicago Longitudinal Study on this topic showed that it creates incredibly positive outcomes, reduces long term crime rates and long term homelessness rates, and in addition, leads to higher lifetime achievements in contributions by those who benefited from universal early childhood education. Every dollar we spend picking up needles and institutionalizing homelessness is a dollar we don't have any more to spend on initiatives with exceptional ROI. I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but I assume the ROI on your bill is non-positive. I don't understand why we would suffer such an opportunity cost when the proposed solution to our homeless problem only addresses symptoms and institutionalizes homelessness on our streets. Can you please explain this?This email is a bit longer than I hoped, but these points have not been considered in news articles or seemingly publicly by the city council. Please, as a representative of this city you must do the difficult thinking and make the tough choices. We can either dedicate all of our resources to areas that don't improve our city, or we can approach life optimistically and focus our effort on dollars on those programs that improve the lives and outcomes for our citizens. Please do not sell out our city and institutionalize public homelessness. via /r/SeattleWA

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