From the article:

    What if the poor need more than disposable income to escape poverty? What if they need a life coach?

    That’s the position of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who in his new anti-poverty plan wants poor families to work with government agencies or charitable nonprofits to craft “life plans” as a condition of receiving federal assistance under his proposed “opportunity grants.” “In the envisioned scenario providers would work with families to design a customized life plan to provide a structured roadmap out of poverty,” Ryan writes. At a minimum, these life plans would include “a contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success,” a “timeline” for meeting them, “sanctions” for breaking them, “incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract,” and “time limits”—presumably independent of actual program limits—for “remaining on cash assistance.”


Accountability seems to work against the people most in need.

Difficult clients are often shoveled toward charities, who may want to service them but may not be able to because of the requirements of the grant. Agencies like to see results from their grantees, which creates an incentive to disregard the most troubled clients and keep their numbers up and the money coming.

I often work with another nonprofit who is contracted by the VA to act as life coaches for a year after a homeless client is housed. Their social workers have around 40 concurrent clients and are required to allot the same minimum amount of time per month to all of them; that is, 1 hour to the veteran who served 31 years as a sheriff and has a masters in psychology, and 1 hour to the veteran who spent 30 days in the military and believes he served 30 years in the CIA/DEA/FBI/NCIS and took down a drug cartel in Thailand when he was learning kickboxing.

Because of their case load and the accountability requirements from the VA, they have little extra time to budget toward the latter client. How well is a life plan with a time limit going to work for him?

Whole thing seems predicated on the flawed notion that a majority people who receive assistance want to abuse it forever. I'm often faced with the weird problem of convincing 70 year old men not to work, because if they did, they would fall over the income boundary that allows them to secure subsidized housing. This is a problem because the Social Security they're already receiving is not livable, and they don't have enough time to save retirement money or secure a pension. I have encountered next to no impoverished persons who want to do nothing except collect welfare. Of course, my sample is of a relatively small demographic - mostly the disabled and the elderly, with some of the currently working.

posted by thenewgreen: 1850 days ago