You are a social work administrator who runs a small nonprofit organization serving adults and adolescents experiencing homelessness. In addition to your tasks overseeing case managers and the operations of your residential shelter, you have started to facilitate a social action group with some of the shelter’s residents who are interested in coming together to advocate for better treatment by the city, particularly from the police department. You have helped the participants to organize to present testimony at City Council meetings, write letters to their commissioners, and document some of the abuses at the hands of the police, which resulted in a series of media reports about how homeless individuals’ rights are violated by the City.
At last night’s meeting, the participants concurred that the most important concrete goal for their work is the funding and establishment of a day shelter where they can rest, study, eat, and recreate without harassment from the police (your shelter is only open at night). They are emboldened by the attention they have received and vow to keep attending City Council meetings and engaging in other strategies to ‘keep the pressure up’ until they can win the several hundred thousand dollars per year that it will take to fund the day shelter. This morning, you receive a phone call from the Mayor. He knows that you have been working with the homeless individuals, and he expresses his upset about the news articles and all of the negative attention. He promises that he will ‘do anything’ to make the situation quiet down, even if it means spending money. He says, though, that if the group keeps coming to ‘disrupt’ City Council meetings, he will be forced to take a tough public stance, and there will be a standoff.
Respond to the following questions and relate it to the NASW Code of Ethics:
Should you tell him about the demand for a day shelter?
Should you use this opportunity to ask for what the group wants?
Should you share with the group what the Mayor promised?
What considerations should you weigh in deciding what to do next?
What comprises the ethical dilemma here?