Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

SEPTEMBER 22, 2004

Chair Matt Small called the meeting to order at 4:05 p.m. at the Community Development and Engineering Services building in the Siskiyou Room located at 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR 97520.

Commissioners Present: Matt Small, Chair
Don Mackin
Liz Peck
Carol Voisin
Faye Weisler
Kim Miller (arrived at 4:20 p.m.)
Absent Members: Alice Hardesty
Amy Korth
Council Liaison: Kate Jackson, present
SOU Liaison: Ryan Heihn, present
Staff Present: Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

Voisin noted a correction to the minutes. Page 3, under Allen Douma's Public Comment, last sentence: remove the word "are" before the word "far". Voisin moved approval of the minutes, the motion was seconded and the minutes were approved with Heihn abstaining.
2. PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak.
A. Fair Housing @OSF - Due to a lack of response, the event scheduled for September 26th has been cancelled. Diane Hess, Education Coordinator for the Fair Housing Council will speak on October 10th after the showing of "Raisin in the Sun". It will be held at 4:30 pm in the Elizabethan Theater.
B. Parking lot RFP, update on City Council review held September 21st - The City Council recommended on September 21st to go ahead with the RFP with the following parameters: 1) Target incomes of 80 percent of median or less, 2) have a 40 year period of affordability, 3) return project to the City at the conclusion of affordability and 4) the units be rentals.
C. Master planning large parcels - RE: Council study session September 22nd at noon - The Council discussed how master planning might be done on the Croman site and the North Normal area. At that meeting, Jackson requested that Staff write an issue paper for each area. What does the Comprehensive Plan tell us about this area? What are the current needs for housing? What are Staff's recommendations?

Reminder: The Planning Commission holds a study session the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm at the Council Chambers. The agenda is posted on the website a few days in advance.

4. OTHER BUSINESS FROM HOUSING COMMISSION MEMBERS - New and Miscellaneous Commissioner Discussion Items Not on the Agenda - The ad hoc committee had fruitful discussions with Philip Lang regarding his bond proposal. As a result of that meeting it was proposed to restructure the subcommittees to have one committee research financial resources and a real estate committee to find what real estate is available. Should the Commission focus on this? Mackin moved to create a new Real Estate subcommittee and expand the role of the Finance subcommittee. It was decided this required a larger discussion and would be a good topic for the quarterly study session. Mackin withdrew his motion. A study session was tentatively set for October 16th from 9:00 a.m. to noon at 51 Winburn Way.

Public Comment: Jennifer Henderson commented that she sees the Education subcommittee as vital. The community has to be educated about low income housing.

The regular Housing Commission meeting dates for the months of November and December have changed to November 17th and December 15th at 4:00 pm in the Siskiyou Room to accommodate the Holidays.

A. Ad Hoc-Bond Proposal Evaluation - Small read a letter from the committee evaluating Lang's proposal. The proposal left the committee with questions regarding administration and costs. The committee was not in a position to make a recommendation on Lang's proposal to the Council. The committee recommended Lang's proposal go to the Finance subcommittee to research funding opportunities.

Public Comment: Philip Lang responded that there is a lack of political will. He entered his letter dated September 21, 2004 into the record.

B. Education - A community event will be planned for later in the spring.
C. Land Use - They met with Goldman and talked about master planning.
D. Finance - No report.
Goldman stated there are two separate uses to be discussed at this meeting for CDBG funding. The first is the issuance of a RFP for using a $274,000 carryover. The RFP was issued and one response was received from the Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation (RVCDC). The second proposal is from the Ashland Community Land Trust (ACLT) to shift $80,000 awarded to them in 2001 to an alternative site.

Staff Evaluation/Recommendation
RVCDC is proposing the acquisition of land to develop six affordable housing units at 795 Park Street. The property is large enough and zoned appropriately to accommodate the use. Staff has a written an evaluation of the project. The proposal is an eligible use of funds and meets the national objective. Three units would be targeted at 80 percent of median income and three units at 50 percent of median income. They are applying for the Self-Help program under the USDA Rural Development Program. Homebuyers contribute sweat equity to lower the purchase price of the homes. It is highly likely that persons identified for the units would qualify for subsidized home loans through USDA as well and could be as low as one percent interest. The Self-Help program has not been done in Ashland previously but does have a proven track record around the country and RVCDC has worked with them for a couple of years to get a pilot project off the ground.

Strengths of the proposal:
a. It meets one of the highest priority needs in the Consolidated Plan; namely, the provision of affordable housing.
b. It targets truly low income.
c. It is a comprehensive approach to homeownership. It lowers the price of the home as well as giving the homeowners an opportunity to learn skills in building the homes.
d. The site is zoned appropriately and is close to transit.
e. The CDBG funds are approximately 14.6 percent of the total project costs.
Weaknesses of the proposal (rankings shown in the packet):
a. Inconsistency in the detail of the project and funding sources.
b. The six unit development does not maximize the density. Potentially eight apartments could be built.
c. Staff questions the phasing proposal. The application on Siskiyou (Phase I) is contingent upon Phase II. In the last award, RVCDC indicated $361,000 awarded for acquisition of the Siskiyou site would not require any further award from the City to complete the nine units. It is Goldman's understanding there is a 15 unit contract with USDA, so the six units are contingent on the nine units on Siskiyou.
d. Period of affordability. The application states the units will remain affordable for 20 years and potentially in perpetuity under a 99 year lease, however, there is no indication of the increases in value during that time. Does the "equity share" they speak of outstrip the wage increases? The units could become less affordable to the target income group.
e. Administrative capacity. RVCDC has not completed any housing under the Self-Help program. Additional staffing would likely not have experience with the Self-Help program and would be considered a risk.

Overall, Staff is recommending approval of the award to RVCDC. If there is any concern on the part of the Housing Commission that the funds would not be expended in a timely manner, the recommendation from the Housing Commission should be to roll over the funds for an immediate award at the beginning of 2005 in February. The completion of the project is not just the spending of the money; it is development of the units. The units need to be underway and typically completed within one year of purchase of the property.

Weisler asked why there had been a delay of the pre-application. Goldman said the cause is just normal development activity. The pre-application could have been filed sooner but was filed only recently. The applicant wanted to have an architect before submitting for the pre-application. From Staff's vantage point, there was little justification for delaying the submission of a pre-application. The pre-application was submitted August 10th and given a September 29th pre-application meeting.

RVCDC's Presentation
RON DEMELE, RVCDC, guaranteed the property would be developed. In the worst case scenario if they can't find the families to participate, they will still develop the property as an affordable housing project. They would just use a different funding source.

The beauty of Self-Help is that it is a single source of funding for the most part. The federal government provides RVCDC staff to get the work done. Once the families are signed up and the subdivision is completed, the clock starts ticking and they have two years to complete the 15 or 16 units they envision.

Demele introduced Roxanna Zapata. She will be screening applicants for housing. Very few will qualify. After spending considerable time building their homes, the buyers seldom sell. To date, they have preliminarily qualified two to three families.

Demele said the numbers shift in the budget because of the way the questions are asked. Acquisitions and legal fees were two examples he gave. He made some mathematical errors. Two things will guide the cost of the project. Who signs up - families (two or three bedroom)? How many units? He can assure the Commission they can get six units on the lot.

If they are not granted funding for this project, they will still move ahead with the Siskiyou site.

Demele said if there is not approval for the pre-application, Self-Help doesn't feel there is the ability to move ahead. They will be submitting their pre-application tomorrow or Friday (Sept 23). They submitted for a pre-application on July 22nd. Goldman said he secured a date for the pre-application - that was the date the pre-application was reserved. The plans were actually submitted by RVCDC on August 10th.

Demele said they have a realistic timeline for this project. They are starting the Siskiyou project in January. They are looking at completing the purchase on Park Street through the option they have on the property in January. They are looking at getting through the planning process at roughly the same time, along with the release of funds for the Siskiyou project. The Park Street project will start in the fall. They are hoping to have families at that time with some carryover from the Siskiyou project. They would begin building the Siskiyou units in February with completion in the fall. They would begin the Park Street units in the fall.

Weisler asked about the 20 year affordability and/or affordable in perpetuity. Demele feels the homeowners have worked hard for a year and should be able to recapture some equity, however, he also wants to preserve affordable housing. Year one through 20, the housing would have to be resold to a low income family. RVCDC's lease will be worded to discourage a sale. If there are sales, they would share the equity with the families, recapture some of the money and put it into affordable housing.

Weisler expressed some concern that in its' ten year history, RVCDC has produced only 24 homes to date. Demele said prior to 2000 they had a broader mission.

Miller lauded RVCDC, but also said this is a scary project. You have to find poor people with excellent credit, no loans, with fulltime jobs that can pay the mortgage but can build their houses at the same time. The difficulty is finding the people. Demele disclosed he and Miller have spoken about this program. He added that this will work in Ashland because people will fight to live in Ashland. Miller thought $25,000 for the architect and engineering seemed really low. Demele said they are using this project as a building block project. They are using work done under the Grape Street Village in Medford.

Jackson/Weisler m/s to extend the meeting to 6:15 p.m. The motion was seconded and approved.

The public hearing closed.

Commissioners' Discussion and Motion
Miller/Peck m/s to recommend to the City Council awarding of the CDBG funds in the amount of $274,000 to RVCDC. Voice Vote: Unanimous.

ACLT'S Presentation
Goldman said a letter is included in the packet outlining the site adjacent to the six unit apartment complex they have recently developed as rental housing on Garfield. Their proposal is to use $80,000 to buy property that is immediately adjacent. They plan to subdivide the property into two lots. Staff is recommending approval of the new site location and the approval of $80,000 to purchase the property.

No one came forward to testify.

The public hearing was closed.

Commissioners' Discussion and Motion
Mackin/Voisin m/s to recommend to the City Council reallocation of the $80,000 in funds to ACLT. Voice Vote: Unanimous.

Goldman noted the upcoming meetings outlined on this month's agenda. Also, the Housing Alliance will be held on October 6th.
The study session is scheduled for October 16, 2004 from 9 to noon. The purpose is to further refine the priorities they ended with at the last study session and look at new information that was brought forward to the ad hoc meeting.

October 27th meeting
   Living Map - invite Keith Massey, Jackson County and City of Ashland staff
   CDBG Modification

9. ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 6:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

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