On Monday, the City Council will receive a presentation on the MWHITF's strategic plan. As they do so, they might want to consider a few things.
First, it begins with a lie. Polk County did not help create the plan, having dropped out in October, and their only recommendations (from the Veterans Committee) having been ignored, out of spite, and replaced by the recommendations of a group of students from Willamette University.
Second, Councilors should keep in mind that, at some point, they will be asked to approve $40,000 to "jumpstart" the hiring of a project manager to implement the plan they are hearing about. They should ask themselves whether the plan they're hearing about is worth $40,000 to implement, and also, whether that $40,000 would not be better spent on housing and services for the homeless.
the last hour of the last meeting, and consider whether a majority even had time to read the plan.
Councilors should also ask themselves whether they believe that providers in the area support and will collaborate on implementing the plan, because, if they don't or won't, there's no point in hiring someone to oversee implementation.
If any Councilor does believe there's widespread support for the plan, then they should probably talk to a few people. Not publicly, because no provider will say what they truly think in public -- or amongst each other. Providers won't talk unless they feel like it's safe to be honest, because they're afraid of offending the City and others on whom they may depend for funding, and they're afraid of backbiting. If they feel safe enough to say it, providers will say they didn't participate in making the plan, weren't consulted about it, and don't believe the plan is worth $40K to implement. Unsurprisingly, they will likely also say, if asked, that they're not inclined to devote any of their own time or resources toward implementation.
the two plans have nothing to do with each other. Moreover, unlike the Task Force's plan, HUD approved the 10-Year Plan, as did all participating jurisdictions, and it provides access to financial resources. The Task Force plan, on the other hand, is a disorganized mishmash that's unconnected to anything.
So now let's talk about the "implementation structure." This is what Commissioner Carlson and Mayor Clark are asking Salem to give them $40,000 for.
The slide below refers to a "commission" -- that's because, up until a couple of weeks ago, the co-chairs were talking about Salem creating a housing commission. Then, they figured out they already had housing commissions.
If that were a small-business plan, would the City give it a micro-loan? No, it wouldn't. So why would anyone even think of supporting it with a grant of $40,000? Politics. Pure Politics.
The Case in Brief
- The unexamined premise of the project-manager-in-COG proposal is that there is a "project" that requires a "manager."
- The strategic plan is not so much a "project" as it is a list of project ideas, of varied complexity, most of them unrelated.
- The plan identifies no priorities or performance measures, and the Council should not rely on students, no matter how well-intended, to provide them.
- The plan's objectives and tasks are vague, disorganized and subject to multiple interpretations.
- Many objectives are self-executing, or already resolved in some way, and the rest require the approval of Salem, Keizer, Marion and Polk Counties, and the boards of social service agencies, many of which did not participate in the planning process.
- All plan deficiencies are exacerbated by the fact that Commissioner Carlson and Mayor Clark are likely to be the ones determining what the manager will do with thell plan.
- The plan does not have the support of the provider community or Polk County.
- Implementation would likely be a serious distraction and make more difficult the ongoing efforts to bring housing and homeless service providers together into some form of collaboration.
- Forty-thousand dollars would pay the first and last month's rent and security deposit for 12 families.