ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
JANUARY 22, 2003
CALL TO ORDER- Chair Andy Dungan called the meeting to order at 4:10 p.m. Others Commissioners present were Joan Legg, Richard Seidman, Larry Medinger and Cate Hartzell. Jonathan Uto arrived later. Kate Jackson and Mayor Alan DeBoer were also present.
Dungan introduced Evian Distefano. Distefano was recently appointed by Mayor DeBoer as a high school student representative.
The December 18, 2002 minutes will be held for approval until the next meeting.
AGENDA SUGGESTIONS- Dungan suggested moving several agenda items around. Legg wanted to talk about the housing rental assistance program. Medinger would like to ask for a letter of support from the Housing Commission.
JULIE RODWELL, 264 N. Mountain Avenue, said she has applied for the Housing Coordinator position. She sent a letter setting forth why a part-time position might be a good idea. If there is a commitment to a permanent full-time position, then she or someone like herself would be interested. Her letter should be taken as history in the sense that things keep evolving. She has a particular interest in co-housing. Dungan said it might be appropriate to present her ideas regarding co-housing to this commission at some point.
MAYOR ALAN DEBOER stated the City is in a little bit of transition right now. A new city administrator will be starting February 18th. If the Housing Coordinator position is to be a full-time position, he would rather wait on the hiring and re-advertise it instead of going ahead with the hiring of a part-time person because the applicant pool could change. He is concerned that once a city position is created, you canít get rid of it. He would be interested in outsourcing. He used the Ashland Community Land Trust
as an example, though that doesnít have to be the vehicle. He needs to have some direction from the Housing Commission.
Seidman wondered why hiring hinges on the new city administrator, and why does the process need to be held up? It would be frustrating to have another delay. His vote would be not to delay the process and advertise right away for a full-time position. Seidmanís own experience with outsourcing has been that as a non-profit director, it takes an enormous amount of time to continually work on fund raising at all levels. Then, there is the time it takes to implement programs Non-profits, by their nature are very tenuous. It would not only take a director, but a full-time staff to build a stable program. He believes it would be in the Cityís best interest to have the dedicated funds for a staff person who can focus on delivering the program and not worrying about the next yearís funding.
DeBoer said when we go to a full-time position, there are some procedures that have to go in place to create the pay scales, the job itself and the job description. He thinks it could take about two months. If we outsource to ACLT, this could be a City arm. If this didnít work, we could pull the person back into the City and if it did, it would help stabilize the Land Trust.
Hartzell has not seen the city administrator involved in this type of thing in the past. It seems the major change is that we are taking a temporary part-time position and we are re-advertising for a permanent position. She also does not understand the need for a delay. With regard to outsourcing, she sees that we have a position we havenít even started and she doesnít think it is even outsourcing. The consultant recommended we place it in the city. Non-profits are not a reliable place to put this position. Hartzell noted that ACLT grew out of the Housing Commission.
Medinger said he is fully supportive of ACLT and wants to see it flourish, however, he is concerned about outsourcing.
DeBoer said budgetary approval is needed to create a new position.
Jackson questioned how much the job description would change. DeBoer said the structure would change. Jackson said personnel can take care of that. In her discussions with McLaughlin, he said he would rather have a full-time position now. DeBoer thought is could be a two-month process.
Legg said the purpose is to get some stability. If it takes an extra two months, so be it. She knows that the banks she has worked with would never fund an organization if they didn't have confidence in the staff that is running it. She believes it is important to coordinate this position with other positions in the city such as those dealing transportation, schools, etc.
Dungan thought there could be a conflict of interest if we hired an ACLT person to do affordable housing. He reminded the Commission that they spent a lot of time talking about having this position as a non-city position. Through their extensive discussions, however, they decided the position needs to be in the city because of the city needing to have control of some things.
Seidman does not believe a temporary position would have time to tackle the issues of affordable housing. The time has come to work with the gathering momentum. The way the Land Trust is currently constituted is very limited compared to the comprehensiveness of the Action Plan. Maybe half the items suggested in the Action Plan are beyond the scope of the Land Trust and really in the domain of city government--policy changes, land use changes, etc. Funding for a non-profit is often geared to the budget of the organization and their financial track record. We need to attract millions of dollars and the city has the stature to be a credible recipient of those funds from major foundations and other government sources.
Hartzell suggested we ask Staff to prepare an advertisement that would reflect the permanent nature of the job so it will be on the Councilís work agenda. We could re-advertise it as early as February 5th or 6th.
Medinger thought the Commission should write a letter to the Council recommending a permanent position. Hartzell said the letter could reflect the recommendation of the Needs Assessment and Action Plan and ask Council to adopt both. It might be helpful for the Council to understand why we want a full-time city position.
Seidman moved that the Housing Commission formally recommend to the Council the adoption of the Needs Analysis and the Action Plan. Secondly, recommend the hiring of a permanent full-time housing coordinator as soon as possible. Legg seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.
DeBoer noted that there is currently a rental assistance program that has not been used in for at least two years. There is an affordable housing purchase program and the contracts were dropped. There is funding but no way to access the program. He would like some research done on these programs and recommendations. Also, they need a specific change in the affordable housing program so someone cannot sell a house out of the affordable program.
Molnar said the Planning Commission forwarded a recommendation to the Council so that affordable units that come under annexation or zone change will have a 60 year term of affordability.
Molnar said originally ACCESS volunteered to administer the rental assistance and first time home buyers program. The contract with ACCESS has lapsed. Molnar said they drafted another contract with ACCESS and ACCESS asked for covering of their administrative fees. It has been in limbo with an agreement to do that. Molnar just needs to get the contracts finalized.
Hartzell wondered if we have a Housing Coordinator, do we need ACCESS? Molnar said we should still use ACCESS because tracking the program is time-consuming. With the demands being placed on the Housing Coordinator his/her time could be better spent in other areas.
Molnar said he has not any contact with people who want the loan programs. We have approved 12 rental assistance loans over the last three years. All have been paid back. We have approved seven first time homebuyer loans between $2000 and $2500. Payback is deferred for five years so none of those loans have yet required payback.
The Commissions directed Molnar to keep moving ahead with this program. Dungan asked Legg if she could look at some new ways to view this program in the future.
Uto arrived at 5:00 p.m. DeBoer left the meeting.
Seidman asked how the Commissionís motion is communicated to the Council. Medinger and Hartzell will assist Seidman in writing a letter to the Council. Legg moved to have a letter written and included in the Council packet for the February 4, 2003 Council meeting. Medinger seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. Medinger and Legg will attend the Council meeting.
EDUCATION & OUTREACH
Seidman said Uto will be writing a letter to the editor. The idea was to get regular letters to the Daily Tidings refuting people who think that investing in affordable housing is a losing proposition and to lay out very specific steps to be taken that have a likelihood of success.
A spokesperson from the League of Women Voters announced they will be having a meeting at the Ashland Elks Club on February 12th at noon. They want to get the facts and present them with regard to affordable housing.
The Education and Outreach Committee will meet Wednesday, February 12th, 1:00 p.m. after the League of Women Voters at the Elks.
NEW COMMISSION APPOINTMENTS- Dungan announced the Christine Oswald and Kim Miller were appointed at last nightís Housing Commission meeting. The City Recorder has an information book she will give each new member.
NEXT MEETING- The next meeting will be held on February 26, 2003. The March meeting will be held on the 19th at 4:00 p.m. at the Siskiyou Room in the Department of Community Development and Public Works Building, 51 Winburn Way.
RENTAL ASSISTANCE HOUSING- Legg will work with Molnar to look at past history and report back at the next meeting.
LETTER OF SUPPORT- Medinger asked the Commission to write a letter of support for the senior housing project on Clay Street. The Clay Street Community Church of God and Creative Alternatives Foundation are applying for the spring round of TFC funding and would appreciate a letter of support. The more support they can get from community groups, the better. The letter should be written in the next couple of weeks.
Hartzell felt, as a matter of protocol, that we understand something about any project brought forward to the Commission asking for support. She can get the background material on this project, but as a matter of course, we should understand any project and not become a rubber stamp for projects. Seidman agreed.
Uto offered to write the letter and send to Dungan for his signature. Legg moved to have Uto write the letter. Hartzell seconded the motion and everyone favored. Medinger abstained. Hartzell thought it would be beneficial if Uto e-mailed the letter to the Commissioners for their review. Legg said she is on the Foundation Board for Medingerís project so she asked for her motion to be withdrawn.
Seidman moved to have Uto write a letter and send it to the other Commissioners for their input. Dungan will sign the finalized letter and given to the Creative Foundations Alternative. In the future, all projects have some advance notice and background information. Uto seconded the motion and it carried with Medinger and Legg abstaining.
Molnar thought, at a later date, it would be educational to understand the steps involved for Medinger to get this project approved.
HOUSING COMMISSION MEETING PLACE
Hartzell would like to talk about working with everyone on the Commission, finding the best time for meeting. Dungan thought the new Commissioners should be involved in the discussion
MARCH MEETING- The March meeting will be held on the 19th at the Siskiyou Room from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Uto noted that he did not believe the room was a good meeting space for involving the public. Hartzell said the tables could be rearranged. The Commission will try meeting there at least once.
PROMOTING COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Uto doesnít believe we need to sell anything more to the Planning Commission or Council, but to get the public involved.
Ideas were brought up such as involving churches and neighborhoods, and an educational meeting in the spring inviting people to break into working groups. Seidman wondered if there are people on the Commission that can articulate some tasks and activities people could plug into. Hartzell committed to Seidman if he reminds her.
Promoting Community Engagement will be an agenda item for next month.
Legg would like to develop some orientation for new Housing Commissioners. Hartzell said Kim Miller should be up to speed as a new Commissioner. Hartzell wondered if Legg has the time to serve as a sort of mentor to Christine Oswald.
ADJOURNMENTĖ The meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m.