SF Councilor Jamison & MNH County Commissioner Kelly need to take a course in basic economics

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As I watched the joint City Council/Minnehaha County meeting on Monday afternoon, I was still baffled by Jamison’s and Kelly’s opposition to the chronically homeless shelter. Yes, other councilors and commissioners have concerns about the cost. Specifically if a grant will be issued to help build and maintain the facility. There is also still disagreement on how much the county and city is going to pay. Staggers also brought up the topic of SSI and Veterans assistance for some of the shelters occupants. These are all great questions. But what baffles me the most is that Jamison and Kelly are vehemently against helping these people NOT because of the above listed concerns but because they think these people don’t ‘deserve’ the help. Jamison claimed that his constituents are telling him this. Hey, Greg, there is more then one person besides your daddy living in your district you can talk to.

Moby Dick move

Okay, let me be the devil’s advocate for a moment. Let’s say I agree with Dick and Greg. Let’s say I don’t care about chronically homeless drunk veterans with mental problems, let’s also pretend I don’t care if they rot in a gutter or freeze to death in a snowstorm. Let’s also pretend that I think it is dispicable that one cent of my money goes towards these bums. But, see, that’s where Dick and Greg just don’t get it. Even if you are against helping these people, it just makes economic sense to help them anyway. By building this shelter we will be saving taxpayer’s aproximately 50-70% in public saftey costs because these people won’t be using our most expensive emergency services as often.

It just makes economic sense to help them, whether you like them or not. I suppose we could get rid of our animal control to save taxpayer’s money also, but we know the public saftey repercussions outweigh the expense and that’s why animal control is important.

I would think two guys in the Real Estate business would understand simple economics, but hey, look how these two vote most of the time.

The Gargoyle wrote about it today in an editorial, where once again they praised Munson’s leadership on passing the bonds. Because there is nothing like flushing $8.5 million in interest payments down a monkey crapper toilet for projects we could have budgeted for instead borrowed for. Yup, that’s leadership alright, right to the poorhouse.



4 comments ↓

#1 Costner on 05.20.09 at 6:45 am

I understand where your economic argument comes from, but it would only be true if these people would be able to remain in the shelter for the remainder of their lifetimes and never resort to using emergency services again.

Cold as it might sound, if they use emergency services for 5 years and then freeze to death in a snowstorm, it would probably cost us less than housing them for the next 30 years. Thus, from a purely economic standpoint, there is much more to the story.

The economic argument also assumes that other chronically homeless won’t infiltrate the city once they hear about the new housing program that can provide them a place to live until the day they die. It also assumes that the homeless won’t purposefully start to abuse the system in hopes they become the squeaky wheel that requires permanent assistance and housing.

As much as I hate to say it, it is possible that Jamison and Kelly might be right as far as the true cost here. It just requires you to look beyond the surface costs.

I’d like to see the impact to other communities who have done this type of thing to see what the overall impact was 5 or 10 years down the road. Then again, I’d also prefer a program that steers the homeless down a path that leads them to improved lives, but we all know some homeless prefer to be homeless and no amount of assistance is going to change that.

#2 l3wis on 05.20.09 at 7:00 am

“I’d like to see the impact to other communities who have done this type of thing to see what the overall impact was 5 or 10 years down the road.”

It is based on a program that is being used across the country that the BUSH administration implemented. The first model was in Seattle where they are saving millions of dollars a year. You are right, there will be people who abuse the system, shit, politicians do it everyday and waste more money then the homeless do any day of the week. Just take Jamison alone who voted for a bond that will cost taxpayers $8.5 million in interest payments. What will we get for that money? Nothing. I will and has been saving us money, it just makes economic sense.

#3 Sy on 05.20.09 at 9:27 am

Am I in the right blog? or did I actually just see some credit given to the Evil Bush Admin.?

Seriously though, it would make sense for the City & County to step up and address the issue. Aren’t they closing the Berahkah house because it actually fulfilled it’s mission? It wouldn’t be a big deal to re-do it’s mission to help the chronically homeless, have the City & County kick in some $$ to get it going, and follow the same Guildelines as the Bush program. Best part is you wouldn’t get the NIMBY’s at that location.

#4 l3wis on 05.20.09 at 11:28 am

Well, I would give credit to Bush, like I would give credit to him for implementing Jazz Appreciation Month. That was suggested by the Smithsonian, he just signed a piece of paper, which I’m sure he did with this program. What is amazing about the program is that it has saved every community that has followed the model money. Of course, if Emergency services weren’t so damn expensive, you might not see that.

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