Free «Flint Water Crisis vs. Houston Homeless Grants» Essay

Flint Water Crisis vs. Houston Homeless Grants

The governmental theory provides that the relations between the government and the non-profit organizations develop in two different trajectories, which are the complimentary and supplementary. Whereas the complimentary relationships relate to the situation where the non-profits serve as the alterative to the public services or as the only option available, in the supplementary relations, they act more as the partners of the official authorities, assisting the latter in dealing with the certain local challenges. This paper aims to discuss both of them with the reference to two practical cases involving the non-profits in Flint, Michigan and Houston. 

The Flint Water Crisis

The civic sector in the city of Flint, Michigan turned out to be more effective and initiative in providing the city with the necessary assistance during the times of the severe water crisis. In particular, the Flint based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation had awarded $100,000 to launch the new water filters in Flint (“Nonprofits, businesses step up”, 2016). Additionally, it awarded $4 million to reconnect the city with the water supply systems. As a result, the Foundation had managed to build a network of the pipelines that started to supply the city with the water resources.

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The response of the local and federal authorities to this problem was completely feckless. Obviously, it lacked the competition in dealing with such a problem and it did not manage to contract the services and organizations that would be able to solve the problem at the local level at least. 

Another example of the proactive initiative in regards to this problem is the crowd-funding platform named CrowdRise. The team of this platform contacted the Detroit musicians and the Sean Anderson Foundation. Together, they launched the campaign called HealFlintKids that managed to raise $300,000 in donations (“Nonprofits, businesses step up”, 2016). 

The theory of the supplementary relations provides that the citizens of the city might purchase the alternatives offered by the state. In this case, the problem was quite different since the citizens were left alone with their water issue. The response of the government was completely ineffective, and the citizens had no other option than to deal with the non-profit organizations and crowd-funding platforms. In fact, they participated in the renovation of the water supply system indirectly and contributed to the solving of the problem. 

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The theory also provides that the city authorities usually assign the resources based on the statistics about the median voter (Feiock & Andrew, 2006). Therefore, if the interests of the residents of the city were not homogenous, the some of them would be left unsatisfied with the official policies of the local authorities. The citizens of the latter group are presumed to have organized into the voluntary movements to ensure the quality of the services and goods through the voluntary collective basis. 

The presented case also verifies the theory by the fact that the private action there actually intended to prod the government into action. Otherwise, the problem could have turned into the catastrophe, and the citizens of the city, at least the critical mass of them, were willing to prevent that from occurring. 

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The Homeless Problem in Houston

Within the theory, Young (1999) also discusses the role of the complimentary relations between the NPOs and state. Under such a model, the state creates the contractual framework for the collaboration with the non-profits. The complimentary system of relations helps the governments avoid the bureaucratic procedures and address the problem rather quickly with the engagement of the public. Usually, the non-profit organizations have more resources to provide such help to ensure the more efficient use of the assigned money.

The complimentary relations between the state and NPOs were developed in the case of Houston city. The situation in Houston was quite different. The city faced the critical problem of the rising number of the homeless people. Of course, the social challenges led to other problems such as the increased crime rate, the sanitary problems, etc. Nevertheless, the local government was rather effective in addressing this challenge. It supported the larger initiative called The Way Home and assigned the budget money to the non-profit organizations for them to deal with the problem. The system was supported by the $665 million campaign that had to lead to the construction of the supportive house units (Houston Chronical, 2014). 

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In Houston, the cooperation was increased, and it included the city administration, the non-profit organizations, faith based institutions, etc. More than 70 providers were engaged into carrying out of the initiative. The plan adopted by the city council and authorities aimed to perform a systematic change and to solve the problem of homelessness at the very basic level. As a result, nearly 3,000 veterans were provided with the houses. More than 2,000 chronically homeless people could finally move in to the affordable houses (Houston Chronical, 2014). Other non-monetary effects of the reform were not researched; yet, as supposed, they related to the work productivity, safety on the streets, raise of the living standards, etc. 

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As it could be seen from the case study described above, the relations between the government and the non-profits were complimentary. The state has opted out to contract with the local non-profit organizations to tackle certain social problem. The reason behind such a decision was the economy of scale since it was financially sound for the local authorities to delegate their functions to the local NPOs (Young, 1999). The only function they had to perform was the controlling one. Of course, the monitoring of the activities of the non-profit organizations was not free of charge. Yet, it was less expensive than the training of the personal and educating them on how use the technologies and how to manage the project regarding the housing of the homeless people.

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From the standpoint of the transaction costs theory, this choice of the type of relations was rather wise. The government had only to assign the money and to control the way it was spent. In fact, it saved the resources and ensured more rational spending of money due to the competency and experience of the non-profit organizations in this area. The government did not have to waste time and resources to find the competent people to deal with the grant money, to teach and train them, etc.

In addition, the organizations that had been involved in the project had an enormous experience in dealing with the homeless people, so they were aware of the environment and the needs of such people. They were those whom the government and the homeless people could trust. Of course, in main part, they served as the administrators of the grant money that had been assigned to them. At the same time, they filled the gap between the government and the homeless residents of Houston.

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In conclusion, the relations between the government and the non -profit organizations can be either supplementary or complimentary. There are few key differences between them. In supplementary relations, the non-profits are more active as they are frequently driven by the individuals who are somehow not satisfied with the services provided by the public administration in their cities or towns. Usually, they unite to solve the specific problem and they are quite effective at it, the cooperation with the local authorities is little and/or absent at all. In the complimentary relations, the government is pro-active, and the non-profit organizations play the role of the providers of certain services. In most cases, it is financially wisely for the state authorities to delegate its functions to the NPOs and then to control them instead of performing all the services and functions necessary to solve the problem.

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