A Great Example of Government Doing Good

government doing goodAny time anything goes wrong with a government program, we hear about it. Whether it’s Secret Service screw-ups (which didn’t actually hurt anybody) or the rollout of Obamacare (never mind that they fixed it), the media and the public cite it as another example of why the private sector is better than the public sector.

So it’s important that those who support government’s role in building the common good lift up the plentiful examples of the public sector doing great work. For instance, check out Heritage Park Senior Services in a low-income neighborhood in Minneapolis. This state-of-the-art senior community center puts many services that older adults need—exercise equipment, rehabilitation therapy, health services, adult day services—under one roof. Nearby are two assisted living facilities run by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA). And President Obama’s financial stimulus program helped pay for it:

When Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, MPHA saw this idea as the kind of shovel-ready project that could help boost the economy at the same time as providing a valuable social service. Stimulus dollars provided nearly 2/3 of the cost with the U.S. Treasury New Markets tax credits and other federal and local programs covering most of the rest. LISC [Twin Cities Local Initiative Support Corporation] investments helped fill the final gap.

In a time of fiscal constraints, some critics might charge that it’s extravagant for the public to provide this quality of services to low-income people.

“Part of the calculus is that these kinds of services keep people more independent, keeping them out of more costly facilities,” answers LISC Senior Program Officer Erik Takeshita. “Co-locating services like this too also saves money on transportation.”

Thanks to On the Commons magazine for covering great innovations like this. It’s a good reminder to all of us that we have to be the voice of the public sector. We can’t allow those who believe government is good for nothing continue to dominate the national conversation.

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