Saturday, June 30, 2012

Managing the Homeless

Nathan Mayberg reports in today's Register-Star about a meeting that took place yesterday of what seems to be an ad hoc committee identified as the "Columbia County homeless plan implementation committee": "Homeless plan details floated." The plan, of course, involves Eric Galloway's Galvan Initiatives Foundation and the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties establishing Tier 1 and Tier 2 accommodations for homeless single adults in two buildings owned by Galloway at the corner of State and Seventh streets. 

The county's expressed goal is to reduce the cost of housing the chronically homeless. Currently, it costs $70 a day to shelter homeless people in various motels around the county. The Galvan et al plan promises to do it for $60 a day, assuming that there is a 95 percent occupancy rate. That's a saving of only 14 percent, and if the facility needs to remain 95 percent occupied, what happened to the idea of ending homelessness?


  1. That "ending homelessness" concept threw me for a loop too!

    Isn't this just a replacement plan for Galvan to make and take the same amount of subsidized monies all the various motels around the county get?

    Where's the "win" in this plan?

  2. Is this initiative aimed at all homeless single men and women in Columbia County? Or is the target chronically homeless men and women? How many of the 37 or so single homeless men and women in Columbia County are chronically homeless? Single chronically homeless men and women usually make up 50% or less of the single homeless population anywhere at any given time. Assuming that the plan is to house only the chronically homeless why aren't there fewer units in this plan given they are a lower population of the homeless? Why a 95% occupancy rate? Because the developers will lose money with fewer units and empty units. By saying this I do not intend to imply that Galven/MHA are out to make money off of the homeless. That is hardly the case. But nonprofit homeless housing developers have bottom lines when they are putting these packages together and the smaller number of units the less likely the project makes financial sense and would be doable. Bigger is better. Has anyone looked at small innovative programs especially in Seattle and Portland that put the chronically homeless right into supportive permanent housing? The chronically homeless eat up public resources at an alarming rate and Housing First programs are working to keep the formerly chronically homeless housed thus saving the taxpayers a good deal of money on their continual care. National research shows that many chronically homeless adults do not need transitional housing. Why do it then? Because there is no permanent supportive housing? There are many unanswered questions and when an ad hoc committee meets to gin up institutional support for this initiative and does not have a broad array of other important stakeholders at the table one knows the only answer is that this is going to happen.

  3. If I understand what Lantern originally said in the 5th and Warren location ... first the local population is addressed, then the facility can be filled up from any other resource / geographic location available.

    I find this implies transporting homeless from NYC to top off the occupancy issue.

  4. Vincent, that would mean that Columbia County DSS intends to subsidize someone from NYC who is homeless and is sent to Hudson by NYC for shelter. NYC wouldn't pay for such an arrangement and there is no reason that Columbia County would foot the bill to shelter a NYC resident. The County doesn't have to pay for non-County residents and it is a political loser if they choose to make those arrangements. If the shelter intends to stay full by taking people sent from other nearby Counties who pay for the shelter stay there is a great program downside. Let's say Greene County pays Columbia County for shelter beds because they don't have enough beds in that County. Hooking that resident up with Greene County services so they can quickly move out of the shelter in Hudson back to Greene County could be an expensive time consuming administrative nightmare due to logistics. I doubt whether Hudson is going to have a plain vanilla shelter. Look for added on wrap around services.