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Promising Practices for Local Governments: Combating Elder Neglect, Short-Term Vacation Rental Compliance, Reducing Recidivism


December 19, 2019 by Byron Katsuyama
Category: Human Services , Courts, Criminal Justice and Corrections , Tourism

Promising Practices for Local Governments: Combating Elder Neglect, Short-Term Vacation Rental Compliance, Reducing Recidivism

Each week I scan the web for information about promising practices from a variety of local government think-tanks, professional organizations, news media, academia, and other related sources to share with MRSC’s Insight blog and e-newsletter readers. This post highlights promising practices for combating elder neglect, increasing compliance with short-term vacation rental regulations, and transitioning newly released inmates back into the community.

Combating Elder Neglect

We know from studies that the majority of older Americans plan to “age in place,” or stay in their homes or communities as long as possible. This is true for seniors in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the country. While aging in place offers many advantages, we also know that too many seniors live alone and suffer from loneliness and even neglect. To help combat elder neglect a new app-based reporting system, which was developed by San Diego-based West Health Institute and Brown University’s Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research, allows Meals on Wheels volunteers to get help for homebound clients who may be in need of special care from related community service providers. Meals on Wheels volunteers are in a unique position to monitor and respond to changes in the conditions of the seniors they serve because of their frequent contact with clients. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society concluded that the app provides an effective early warning system for at-risk senior’s health and safety problems. As more seniors begin to age in place, combining outreach programs with monitoring may offer an effective first line of defense in combating elder neglect. You can read more about the Meals on Wheels app on EMS1.com.

Increasing Compliance with Vacation Rental Permitting and Tax Collection

One of the basic challenges for cities and counties that have short-term rental businesses operating within their jurisdictions has been to achieve high rates of operator compliance with respect to business licensing/registration and related business and sales tax requirements. It turns out that one of the best ways to enhance these numbers is to provide an easy-to-use public-facing portal where operators can register and pay all associated fees and taxes online without having to visit city hall. That’s how the city of Denver, CO, increased its compliance rate to 80%, which is the highest rate they have seen since they began regulating short-term vacation rentals in 2016. The city worked with Accela, a permitting and licensing platform vendor, to develop their short-term rental portal

The city can also work with host platforms like Airbnb to match their list of properties with the city’s list to help keep track of operator registrations. As an added bonus, the system also allows residents to look up vacation rentals operated by their neighbors and file a complaint, if warranted. The new system also requires less staff resources to operate. You can read more about Denver’s experience here.

One-Stop-Shop for Newly Released Inmates

One promising way to reduce recidivism and associated jail populations is to ensure that newly released inmates are given quick and easy access to a full range of services aimed at helping them make successful transitions back to their lives outside of prison. In Clackamas County, OR, newly released inmates have only to walk across the street from the county jail to find the Clackamas Transition Center, which offers just the kind of help they need. The nationally recognized, one-stop program offers a comprehensive lineup of services, including referrals to treatment programs, employment and housing assistance, mental health and substance abuse assessments, parenting classes, bus passes, hygiene products, and even a free GED program offered by a local community college. 

Some keys to success are the full lineup of services, the voluntary nature of the program, partnerships with the treatment and peer mentor communities, and its proximity to the county jail. You can read more about the Clackamas County Transition Center here.


MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Byron Katsuyama

Byron began work at the Center as a Research Assistant in July 1978. He holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Washington and an M.P.A. from the University of Washington's Evan’s School of Public Policy and Governance. After completing his M.P.A., Byron joined MRSC's consulting staff as a Public Policy and Management Consultant concentrating on municipal administration and policy analysis. Byron is responsible for research in such areas as emerging local government issues, best practices, strategic planning, performance measurement, and local government management. In addition to his consulting duties, Byron also maintains the "Focus" section of MRSC's website and is editor of our "In Focus" and "Ask MRSC" e-newsletters. He also coordinates our HR, Planning, Finance, Government Performance, and Council/Commission Advisors. In his own community of Kirkland, Byron also served for eight years as a member of the city's planning commission. Byron is a member of the Washington City/County Management Association (WCMA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

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