In 2006 a group of seventy people gathered to formulate a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness in the City of Minneapolis and Greater Hennepin County. As a continuing series on this web-site is currently examining a core group of twenty to twenty-five people held the reigns and controlled the direction and process of the Plan in question.
As an article in the Minneapolis Star & Tribune which appeared, appropriately, on April 1, 2017 and entitled “Hennepin County’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness Falls Short” it was noted that at the end of the plan homelessness, overall, had actually increased by 2.5%. There are problems with the article as is so often the case insofar as those interviewed and quoted portray their efforts in a characteristically favorable light while disseminating some very misleading information. For example, that the reduction in veterans homelessness in the area was attributable to state-led efforts which is demonstrably false.
The plan promised many things, among them that at the end of the plan there would be a drastic reduction in emergency shelter beds. The plan also placed a premium on the importance of data. Yet the sharing of data, well, that’s problematic. There are many who would be very interested in a wide variety of the data collected during the ten year period in question but the public sharing of that data has been very selective.
There have been many claims made as to why the Plan has failed–and how can anyone argue that it has been successful? It would be nice to know, for example, when the Office to End Homelessness attributes failure to such things as the tornado which ripped through North Minneapolis. The Office’s web-site claims that the tornado “destroyed much of the region’s affordable housing stock”, a nonsensical claim. Is there any data to back that up? How about the foreclosure crisis and the causal link between that and actual people ending up in homelessness. Similarly, the purported causal link between refugees coming to Minnesota and rates of homelessness. These claims–and many others–are made, but where’s the proof, where’s the data?
The group of people who led this failure have all made out rather well. Twenty to twenty five people: It would be great to know how much it cost to pay the salaries and attendant costs for them to continue to preside over this long-enduring debacle. Five million a year, ten? It would be nice to take a look at that, too. It would also be interesting to inquire as to just how it is that this small group continues to achieve greater acclaim and promotion—that part’s easy I guess, they deserve it, just ask them and they will be glad to tell you how good they are…and yet….
So, a group of thirty-five people, unable to find answers to some really basic questions such as those asked above. decided that they would simply ask. The Plan stressed the importance of data. They had ten years to gather plenty, right? Let’s see it then, okay? We decided to submit a request under Minnesota’s open data statute asking the Office to End Homelessness to provide data gathered under the six goals delineated in the 10 Year Plan. This open records request was submitted to the Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness on FOI data request HHH sept 4 2017.
We will be sharing this effort widely via social media outlets and a variety of stakeholders as the process moves forward. It’s okay if they don’t want to provide answers to some questions, such as staff expenditures….we can find those out on our own with a modicum of effort. While many people were paid quite handsomely and they had a decade we are reasonably sure that our efforts will be met with excuses and obfuscation. But this effort will be fully transparent and members of the public will be able to decide for themselves whether the tens of millions of dollars expended were well spent…or not. Given the expenditures and the time, providing basic information regarding the clearly identified goals written into the plan shouldn’t be a problem, right?