I posted yesterday about what it would take for the Left and the Right to come together on social safety net programs.
There are three aspects of the programs that, in my mind, create and fuel the differences between the two sides. They are:
- How do we measure
- Do they end
- Are they moral and consistent with the concept of Liberty
Just this evening I come across a story concerning a local charity that I love and support:
Raleigh, N.C. — Three years ago, Dyretta Smith and her son were homeless.
“I got laid off from my job, and when I got laid off from my job, everything started to fall apart,” said Smith.
One of her biggest challenges was keeping her then-11-year-old son engaged in school.
“I was determined, and he was determined,” Smith said. “He’s such a smart little boy. I was not going to let the things that happened in our life get him off track.”
For many, the face of homelessness might be someone on the street begging for money or someone sleeping on a park bench.
But there’s a side of homelessness that’s not so noticeable.
PLM Families Together, a nonprofit founded in 1980 as Pan Lutheran Ministries, helps homeless families with housing and other services.
It gave Smith and her son a fresh start.
Smith is now back on her feet with a full-time job and her own apartment, and she even volunteers with PLM Families Together.
Her son is now a ninth-grade honor student at a Wake County high school.
A beautiful story of human kindness, strength and the power of an indomitable will. The exact model of how such gentle examples of human kindness ought to work.
And how does it work?
Families that are “literally” homeless — meaning they have no place to go and are living in places not meant for habitation, are served by PLM Families Together by moving into one of our 10 Short-term Housing apartments. Once they are safe and warm in the privacy of single-family living, they will stay, at no cost, for 2-4 months.
And this is when the real transformation begins.
Each family works one-on-one with a Mentor Advocate (Masters-level Social Worker), to create and carry out a plan of action. During that time, the family meets weekly with the Mentor Advocate. They deposit 50% of their income into an escrow account, and attend PLM Families Together workshops on topics like budgeting, renting, and how to work with a landlord. Mentor Advocates also coordinate special services as needed (disability, educational assessment, school transportation, food, furniture, transportation, etc.).
The goal of Short-term Housing: Help a family re-gain its stability and return to independence and permanent housing — paid for with their own money.
But it doesn’t end there.
When a family leaves Short-term Housing and moves into its own place, care continues through “Aftercare.” Mentor Advocate support and guidance — plus landlord mediation — last an additional 12-14 months. This key piece of the PLM Families Together model increases the chances of continued success for the family.
The assistance is coupled with two key aspects:
1. It ends
2. It helps to build skills such that the recipient is possessed of skills to help cope with the vicissitudes of life.
First pino, good for you for supporting what sounds like such a wonderful program – your personal commitment lends you standing when discussing the issue. Real standing.
So of course, let me add this: private charity has – throughout history – never been sufficient to the task, however we define it. Public, commonly supported assistance has to be a big part of how a society at large addresses the issue. I will stipulate that there have traditionally been abusers. Ask any insurance company paying disability claims – the solution is to go after the abusers.
Getting people on their feet benefits not only the one helped and the helpers, but all of us. A failed person puts a disproportionate burden on society, as does a poorly educated person. We all need to be involved – with our time, our love our money, or just our tax dollars. .
So of course, let me add this: private charity has – throughout history – never been sufficient to the task, however we define it. Public, commonly supported assistance has to be a big part of how a society at large addresses the issue.
My problem with public assistance comes in two parts, the first I’ll answer in nickgb’s response below, the second:
There is no appetite to build in the brakes that I discussed in the initial post. People who would never ever let their own children live in their own homes allow citizens to get away with “murder”.
Getting people on their feet benefits not only the one helped and the helpers, but all of us. A failed person puts a disproportionate burden on society, as does a poorly educated person.
Mostly in my “in person” debates with folks on the left I stipulate that this is a component of social responsibility. But when I ask what responsibility the *recipient* bears, I hear nothing. Does the person receiving the assistance have any responsibility? And if so, when does their refusal to help themselves disqualify them from further largess?
It’s a nice charity, I like that they are socially oriented without proselytizing. But where would they be without public financing?
But where would they be without public financing?
Indeed. More than 50% of their funding comes from non-private donations. While I have a problem with public funding I have much less of a problem when it funds *private* organizations like this one.
Much like schools. I am a-okay with taxing the public to educate, but see no reason why the government needs to do the educating.
I like the first key aspect, ” It ends ” . That really is the big difference between public and private. Private charity tries to put itself out of business by destroying the recurring demand for it’s product. Public charity is always trying to expand it’s business model and get repeat customers. Example: food stamp advertising.
One time in history the Left and the Right came together and produced welfare reform that worked. Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, bitter enemies, got together and enacted into law the PRWORA legislation. You could not stay on public assistance forever if you were able bodied. Does anyone believe that Barak Obama and John Boehner could do anything similar?
Private charity tries to put itself out of business by destroying the recurring demand for it’s product. Public charity is always trying to expand it’s business model and get repeat customers. Example: food stamp advertising.
Not only that but it creates a real sense of urgency in the minds of the recipient. It ends.
Does anyone believe that Barak Obama and John Boehner could do anything similar?
I hope the Bill calls Obama. The critical difference this time around? Obama isn’t facing a re-election.