Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Homeless Business Model

Homeless Services Company
  (+5, -7)
(+5, -7)
  [vote for,

A business that serves the homeless. What, the homeless have no money and therefore make lousy customers? Au contraire.

The company would take homeless off the streets, provide them with housing, mental health services, substance treatment programs, education and career counseling. Everything they need to get them working again and being a productive member of society.

In return for agreeing to provide their services, the company would sign an agreement with the homeless person guaranteeing the company a significant portion of the person's future income for a certain period of time. E.g. 25% of all income for the next 8 years.

The company earns a profit for each homeless person they are able to turn into a productive worker. The homeless person's benefit is obvious. Society benefits from reduced homelessness and a lower cost burden. Homeless people now become assets competed for by a market of profitable service providers whose goal is to convert as many as possible into productive working citizens as quickly as possible and helping them achieve the highest earning power possible.

An example of the economics (with 25% of income over 8 years):

- Takes 2 years to rehabilitate and get the person into a paying job
- Salary over the next 6 years is: $10K, $10K, $15K, $15K, $20K, $30K
- Total income: $100K
- 25% = $25K, more than enough to cover 2 years housing, counseling, job training, etc. with economies of scale, and have a profit left over.

This model wouldn't have to apply just to the homeless. It could also be used with the low income or anyone who has earnings potential they are not yet realizing. It's like venture capital at the individual level, but with the investment coming in the form of personalized services rather than invested capital.

zone, Oct 10 2009

Another way to profit from the homeless http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumfights
Many agreed to take part in it for alcohol, possibly as part of "a contract freely entered into". [Aristotle, Oct 10 2009]

Legal proceedings from Bumfights http://www.thefreel...intiffs.-a092809514
Note the unable to provide consent part. They might need a lot of rehab to be able to give consent before any contract could be legally consented to. [Aristotle, Oct 10 2009]

The Big Issue http://www.bigissue.com/
A "business franchise" run by the homeless that allows them to regain control of their own lives, at the own pace, without a punative contract. [Aristotle, Oct 14 2009]


       Yes [UnaBubba], but is there a reason why it's -not- done by private companies also? [+]
pocmloc, Oct 10 2009

       This kind of heartless logic has been used to justify moral disgraces ranging from debt bondage to student loans. If you want to help, help. If you want to make money, make money. Don't go around getting poor people with no options to sign away large chunks of their future income and kid yourself you are being somehow altruistic.   

       The moral way to do this is to give your help freely, and then many of those you have freely helped will freely contribute to you when they are able, to enable you to help others. Set a glowing example with your charitable assistance and it is only natural that those who have benefitted from it will start to pick up that same ethos and either help you in your task, or help others in their hour of need.
vincevincevince, Oct 10 2009

       What they both said. I couldn't have said it so eloquently.
blissmiss, Oct 10 2009

       I disagree; I don't see how this is more heartless than for example a student loan, or a mortgage to purchase a house. As long as it is a contract freely entered into, with fair break clauses, and most importantly as long as it does not replace social provision by government and charity.   

       Or am I missing some central coercive aspect of the idea?
pocmloc, Oct 10 2009

       They would have more incentive to look for, sign and serve high-value homeless people only -- a bum with a degree in Computer Science is probably going to earn a lot more than regular bums. The rest, as far as this scheme goes, would be left to starve.
Aristotle, Oct 10 2009

       ok, so i'm thinking that we need to start teaching ethics in school. Starting pre-K maybe. The ethical issues here are tremendous, from abusive lending to taking advantage of the disadvantaged, you can put a bunch of numbers on it, but in reality it's just an excuse to put a harness on a person who is too poor to make a go of it and keep them in poverty for a decade. Very few people make a surplus income in excess of 25%. Why not can the idea of doing this in the private sector and leave it to the tax code? If you provide a person with social services and they become successful wage earners you can tax them like everyone else, and if they don't make enough to pay much tax, at least they aren't a drag on the heath care, law enforcement, and general quality of life anymore. Contractual ethics requires that there be a certain level of parity between the parties. A fair contract is not the result when one party is desperate and has nothing to loose.   

       (finally let it be said that transients are the least likely population to fulfill legal contracts, they can just as easily wander down to the next poor house and start a new "contract", unless you intend to brand them with "property of ExploitCo" there is nothing to bind them with, contractually.)
WcW, Oct 10 2009

       Is the word homeless incorrect? We all have a home, the earth. Transient? - like a particle, sometimes here, sometimes strangely not fully there. ? Addressless, residentless, abodeless
wjt, Oct 10 2009

       that is a load. the earth is a pretty inhospitable place for the modern human body. without the support of society or the wealth of resources found in only a few areas (tropical generally) the earth is a painful place to live.
WcW, Oct 10 2009

       somehow i doubt that you write to us today, naked, hair full of bugs and stickers, sipping cold water from your cupped hands, while you contemplate how you are going to find/kill your next meal, and if this whole "internet" and computer thing really mates up with your shelter free, clothe free , refrigerator free, heat free, medicine free lifestyle. I live here, in relative comfort, and consider it a great privilege to have a home, a productive job, access to this digital conversation using electricity, microprocessors and telecommunications, and generally fat warm and happy. It's the shit. The homeless live without much, much less than I have, some with even less than that. It isn't much to have a survivable place to go when it's freezing outside, a place to go where your stuff is relatively safe from theft. A place where you can leave food, or have privacy. Even take a shower. The homeless person does not have these thing as they are part and parcel of a "home". The planet is not my "home" it is broadly the region where I live. Generally speaking "if you don't like being homeless on earth; then leave!" is a bugger all attitude to have.
WcW, Oct 10 2009

       it was 22* Fahrenheit here last night.
WcW, Oct 11 2009

       //I don't see how this is more heartless//
I think it's more in the "not well thought out" category.

       //education and career counselling//
"Hi, I'm a bum with either no working skills and/or no people skills and/or no life skills: hey, how about brain-surgeon ?" Bullshit doesn't help *anybody*.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you're under 20 years old, living at home (or from home). Just what sort of wage do you expect these people to be making ?

       //Society benefits from reduced homelessness and a lower cost burden.//
Really? how much of a "cost burden" does a homeless person put on society ? Does society want to fit them back in ? For starters, usually it's society in one form or another that' s pushed them out.

       Do you really want to do something for the homeless from a business point of view ?   

       Stage I is medical/mental care: get them to the point where they're identifiably human and patched/worked up.   

       Following that is a period of benevolent slavery until they're at the point where the value of their product is greater than the value of the care: *this* is the point where you can start recouping your investment. Mind you this means that you're either using them internally as a workforce or hiring them out: all the while training/re-educating(uh-oh) them in the skills to be acceptable members of society outside the walls.   

       Lastly is an open-door institutionalization where they can leave at any time and can pay for and have access to external training for individual jobs. That way economy of scale for food/lodging/medical-care allows them to save up a bit of money while you as a company spend very little.   

       Some may be in and out of the program in a matter of months; others may simply never leave. And there will be some that will never be profitable.   

       I've read articles where the Chinese use mental patients to make trinkets, the sale of which pays for the cost of their care. Sequestered monasteries and nunneries, which mind you I'm *not* equating with homelessness, are also in the category of self-sustaining extra-societal groups as are some prison systems where the prisoners work.
FlyingToaster, Oct 11 2009

       [UnaBubba] Where was this deep space situated?   

       [WcW] The Earth gives us all those things you spoke of, albiet via some work and some rules. That is why I consider it my home. A home I don't really want to mess up. Not considering it a home makes it easier to dismiss as not my problem. And It, will always in your backyard.   

       I think society could get cleverer and Borg a lifelong abodeless/travelling subset to make cogs rather than a spanners in the great work. Stereotyping is not going work for utter individuals.
wjt, Oct 11 2009

       In case you hadn't heard, there are millions of Americans who would be considered fully functioning that have no employment. How you think that you could afford to retrain/ house/ feed/ heal/ educate those unable to cope well enough to keep a roof over their heads, on 25% of whatever crap wage they might scrape up, (assuming they could continue to remain functional on the remaining bit ), I do not know.
Bdsman64, Oct 11 2009

       well let's say 15-20pct income tax + another 15pct sales taxes. Those are the obvious ones. What's rent in a place secure enough you can store belongings: $400 a month ? Public transportation to/from work: $25/week.   

       Okay my math says that that and the 25pct repayment means you either don't eat... or you're homeless.
FlyingToaster, Oct 11 2009

       ashes to ashes, dust to dust: suffering and ecstasy, all a flicker then a flash, then nothing. This is as nice as it gets, we are as kind as we can be and by gum this is the best of all possible worlds.
WcW, Oct 12 2009

       [WcW] That's selling the sphere of personal moment to moment a bit short.   

       [UnaBubba] Is there such a thing as deep space in a block of gold?
wjt, Oct 12 2009

       Better to just leave them alone to starve on the cold ground than try to create a situation where it's just possible that everyone could come out ahead, otherwise warm overfed citizens might get all indignant that you don't do it at your own expense out of the goodness of your heart. Oh, wait...
egbert, Oct 12 2009

       For Christ's sake, WcW, zone was trying to suggest a way to help the homeless, not exploit them. So some of the figures were a little poorly thought out (25% is a bit high), that doesn't give you the justification to make him/her out to be evil. Your guilt-trip sob story attitude helps nobody. You suggest nothing. You only criticize. zone has ideas that could do a lot of good for the world. He/she was trying to be realistic - in the real world, everything is based on money, whether or not that fits into your utopian ideology. In the real world, businesses don't run on altruism. In the real world, if you want a company to help someone, you have to make it economically feasible. zone was trying to do just that. Money doesn't make it evil, it just makes it realistic.
Joolin, Oct 12 2009

       Good intentions make an idea a good idea? Instead of taking a crack at my annotations why not provide some support for this idea. Could it work? Would it be ethical? What R.O.I. would you expect? How would you prevent abuse? If not for profit systems are failing to achieve the same goals what advantage will a for profit have?   

       I for one am dubious that social altruism and the profit motive are compatible. Can you provide some examples?   

       Is suggesting that an aspect of an idea would be unethical or would raise ethical issues the same as calling the poster evil?   

       Finally I do raise ethical objections to the idea that "in the real world, everything is based on money". This is an evil notion.
WcW, Oct 12 2009

       //Finally I do raise ethical objections to the idea that "in the real world, everything is based on money". This is an evil notion.//   

       Couldn't have put it better myself
vincevincevince, Oct 12 2009

       [Joolin] There are plenty of ways to improve the lot of homeless people without exploiting them with a restrictive contract. New ways are constantly being worked on that don't involve the more "malign" aspects of this idea and this is in the real world.   

       If you think "there is no such thing as society" and there is only money then perhaps you should use a mirror to find the next person who needs rehab ...
Aristotle, Oct 13 2009

       If you remove the contract, which the very needy are probably not fit to sign until they have complete the whole course of rehab anyway, then you might have a self-supporting system due to graduates of it making voluntary donations. Make it an obvious success and wider donations might also follow. However this adjusted model matches many existing, charitable homeless schemes.   

       Maybe things are especially grim where [zone] and [Joolin] are, due to a lack of charitable activity or civilisation itself perhaps? Near to me I certainly know where the homeless can find help, if they feel able to accept it.   

       People who want to reflect on the fate of the homeless probably should consider volunteering for a soup kitchen, or some other kind of front- line service. Buying a regular copy of the "Big Issue", if sold locally to you, can also introduce many of these problems and issues.
Aristotle, Oct 14 2009

       I love the idea. All those losers who are crying about ethics and that sort of thing obviously forget the #1 ethical issue involved here: the government, who everyone assumes will (and should) do this, steals your money at gunpoint (taxation). Plus, after the government steals your money, they do a terrible job of getting people off drugs and into meaningful employment. Why is it that the government is allowed and encouraged to do it -- and that's ethical -- but a private person cannot? Think of this as a really advanced sort of employment agency. I mean, I've been to those places and they garnered my wages, sometimes for two or three dollars an hour.   

       As for the specifics: I think 25% is a bit high. It's not feasible for a burger king worker to pay you 25% of his/her $7.50 an hour.   

       But ethically, right on. Wonderful idea except for the nuts and bolts. Get that right, and I'd invest.
niggard, Oct 16 2009

       Tax funded social services and privately funded charitable works =/= indentured service. An employment agency may take a fraction of your wage but you are always free to find a job elsewhere. You can also move to another country, with different attitudes about taxation or social services, or ethics and contract law (for that matter). Don't compare apples and oranges and don't say "I hate that Y does X, but I guess it makes it ok for me to do X." That is a poor excuse for reasoning. Welcome to the HB and thank you for your niggardly annotation.
WcW, Oct 16 2009

       Let me rephrase this idea a little to put the scheme in some context.   

       /The COLLEGE would take YOUNG PEOPLE off the PARENTS, provide them with housing, mental health services, substance treatment programs, education and career counseling. Everything they need to get them working again and being a productive member of society.   

       In return for agreeing to provide their services, the COLLEGE would sign an agreement with the YOUNG person guaranteeing the COLLEGE a significant portion of the person's future income for a certain period of time. E.g. STUDENT LOAN/
bungston, Oct 16 2009

       " Work from homeless, earn big bucks! Ask me how! "
normzone, Oct 16 2009

       and yet, and here's where it gets tricky, the college bound youngster is not in a position of vulnerability when they choose to go to college, they aren't freezing, starving, sick, or desperate for a drug fix. Lending money (although clearly fraught with ethical and social perils) isn't the issue here, its the conditions under which a contractual burden can be constructed.   

       Simply: An unsecured loan to a person who is currently without income, and who requires the principal to simply survive, is a bad loan. It places a regressive financial burden on an individual who is desperately in need of progressive assistance and who is likely to be criminalized when they inevitability breech the contract.
WcW, Oct 17 2009

       This idea is nonsense.
Hi my name is John and I'm homeless. The other day a guy in a suit from company called HomelessRnotUs approached me and asked if I want to be a surgeon. I said sure.
So he took out a stack of papers... some little tiny words on it .. did he really think I was gonna read that shit?... he was babbling something about it being very important that I am very aware of the consequences. But who gives a shit, right? I just spent a cold night on a bench and I haven't eaten for two days. So all I could think of is that breakfast, the comfy bed, shower and clean clothes waiting for me just if I put an X under some lawyer crap. I said sure. My fiend Oscar was there with me and the retard said "no thanks". What a moron!
Anyway, I got my breakfast, took a nice long shower and got dressed. I was feeling really sleepy when they came out with some crap that it's time for some fucking class. I said "fuck off - I'm tired". They took out those damn papers and started babbling some nonsense about binding this and that... last chance ... bla bla... you know some lawyer crap .. anyway.. I shut the door and went and had the greatest 5 hour nap in years. When I woke up, the fuckers were waiting in front of the door and escorted me out and told me that they were through with me. Can you believe they even let me keep the clothes? What a deal? After I told this to Oscar, he went looking for that joker in a suit hoping he can sign up too.

.... Ok ok ... ya I know this isn't describing every single homeless situation. But think of it as a template. Just add or take away any combination of: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, criminal record, violence, low IQ, low motivation and top it off with bad luck - and you have a recipe for a broken business model. The homeless are survivors, they may not know how to get rich and successful, but they are the best of the best when it comes to surviving - getting what they need when they need it the most. That is bad news for HomelessRnotUs.

And if this is meant for the true hard luck cases. People who really want to escape poverty. How do you sort those people out? Trial and error? How long is that trial period? What about border cases? Maybe the guy just needs one more month to pass a IT support certification so that he can get a job. He almost passed - he's been trying to pass for the last 2 years ... almost .. almost. He's really been trying hard. Really ... Really ... (or has he?)

The point is, people will find a way to abuse a system if they can. Systems that rely on determining whether a person is "trying hard enough" are the easiest to exploit. Sorting out the good ones from the bad ones will either be expensive for the company or highly unethical.
This is a flawed business model
ixnaum, Oct 17 2009


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