To further address homelessness in the city, Vancouver is looking to employ the expertise of vendors with experience using shipping containers to design a series of transportable housing units. The units, which are for temporary stays before permanent housing can be obtained, would have a washroom and sleeping quarters and share a communal kitchen with other units. The plan will allow the city to quickly increase its housing supplies for the homeless while also significantly reducing construction costs. The city plans to pilot between 30 and 40 modular homes, and if successful, 300 homes could be installed by the city annually.
The General Services Administration is passing its knowledge of information technology sharing and acquisition to assist states and localities. The GSA’s “18F” team will partner with federal agencies that provide grants to state and local programs by providing access to expert consultants to help those agencies launch new services and technology platforms. The 18F team specializes in human-centered design that integrates the strengths and efficiencies of multiple technology vendors.
Under a new policy, the New York Police Department will in most cases not arrest persons in Manhattan who are stopped for low-level offenses, such as public drinking, urinating, or littering, unless there is a threat to public safety. Instead, officers would have the discretion to offer people a criminal summons that can usually be handled by paying a fine. At the same time, the district attorney’s office will stop prosecuting most minor violations and infractions. The policy change is due in part to ensuring that courts are not clogged with minor offenses while law enforcement and criminal justice resources can be focused on those who commit serious crimes.
Several California school districts will be administering regional-wide tests on not just math and reading, but on social-emotional skills such as self-control, conscientiousness, turn-taking, and respectful debate. The move is based on part on a change in federal education law that requires states to use at least one nonacademic measure for student progress. While critics question the reliability of such tests, proponents say that even imperfect measures and methods are needed to ensure that schools are focusing on these fundamental life skills. Many states are closely watching the experiment.
Ithaca, New York is taking a proactive approach to addressing the soaring drug overdoses in the region. Under the new plan, the city will explore the creation of a 24-hour supervised facility where drug users could use drugs under clinical supervision and without threat of arrest. The move would be modeled after successful facilities in Vancouver, Europe, and Australia, but would need to be approved by regulators. Aside from this controversial move, the city will also create a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program under which police officers can send those with drug offenses directly to the social service system. Other interventions include an on-demand centralized treatment resource system and a 24-hour crisis center.
School systems across different countries are rediscovering the importance of learning how to perform proper domestic work. Singapore has recently announced that all children and teens in the state’s school system will learn how to clean in their classrooms. Young children will work together to pack books, sweep floors, arrange tables, and empty waste baskets. Some schools in the United States have also incorporated cleaning as part of their daily educational routine and Japan has long involved its students in cleaning up their schools in lieu of adult custodians.