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Housing Commission (View All)

Housing Commission Minutes 3-27-08

Minutes
Thursday, March 27, 2008

CALL TO ORDER

Chair Carol Voisin called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building, 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR  97520.

 

Commissioners Present:

 

SOU Liaison Alexandra Armarotico,absent

Carol Voisin, Chair

 

 

Richard Billin

 

Council Liaison:  Alice Hardesty

Steve Hauck

 

 

Aaron Benjamin

 

Staff Present:: 

Graham Lewis

 

Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist

 

 

Carolyn Schwendener, Account Clerk

Absent Members: 

 

 

Regina Ayars

 

 

Bill Smith

 

 

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Hardesty/Billin m/s to approve the minutes of the February 28, 2008 meeting.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

 

PUBLIC FORUM

No one came forth to speak

Julie French  from the Ashland Daily Tidings was present.

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM

2008-2009 Application Review         

Goldman explained that the CDBG program is a federal program by which communities around the country receive direct allocations of funds. Specifically each community has to meet specific federal goals. The primary goal being that at least 51 percent of the people benefiting from the use of CDBG funds must be of low income.  Goldman handed out the Annual Action Plan Development which includes the fourteen goals as put forth by the Federal Government and explained what Ashland will do to address those goals. Ashland receives about $200,000 each year from the Federal Government.  Goldman stated it’s a decreasing number, the year prior was $213,000 and at one point it was up to $256,000.  The goals don’t change just the available funding to meet them. 

 

Goldman reviewed Ashland’s goals the first three of which relate to Housing. 

1.       To increase the supply of affordable rental housing

2.       To increase homeownership opportunities

3.       Maintain existing affordable Housing supply

4.       Address homelessness

5.       Encourage the development of emergency and transitional housing

6.       Support Housing with people with special needs

7.       Provide alternative transportation routes. 

8.       Make city facilities easier and safer to use for people with disabilities

9.       To affirmatively further fair housing

10.   Assure activities assisted by the City are conducted in compliance

11.   Reduce the number of people living in poverty in the city

12.   Promote and support activities in the community that improve or provide access to economic opportunities

13.   Remain aware of the barriers to affordable housing

14.   Provide institutional structure and intergovernmental cooperation

 

The CDBG Program requires a public hearing opportunity.  One before the Housing Commission (this meeting) and one before the City Council on April 1, 2008.   Goldman said that although they had $355,000 to award they only had one request for $10,000 leaving $345,000 on the table.  With the development of next years action plan the city will want to identify that they can expend those funds during that period.   The City has to expend a portion of it or lose it. 

 

Goldman noted some potential uses of the CDBG funds in the coming year.

  • There will be a five unit town home project on Chitwood Lane off of Clay Creek behind the Ashlander apartments. The City Council award development rights to RVCDC. One opportunity of expending the CDBG funds would be the road extension on Chitwood Lane along the frontage of those affordable housing units.
  • Land acquisition.
  • Rehabilitation of existing affordable housing. The Housing Authority of Jackson County sent a letter that states that they were interested in applying for CDBG funds but was not far enough along in their project to make an application. They are working on rehabilitating a 51 unit development on Clay Street. (The Strafford apartments)

 

Goldman summarized the Fair Housing Council of Oregon’s application.

 

Mr. Moloy Good, Acting Director for the Fair Housing Council of Oregon called the Commissioners on the speaker phone to answer questions regarding their application.   Mr. Good stated that the Fair Housing Council is a private non profit whose mission is to eliminate housing discrimination in all of Oregon and Southwest Washington.  They strive to accomplish this goal with three main foci:

·         Education to the general public

·         Outreach regarding fair housing laws

·         Enforcement

 

Mr. Good said what they are proposing to do for Ashland is primarily education and outreach.  They are proposing to do two specific Fair Housing trainings and a workshop for service providers.  Some of the CDBG money would go to the hotline and some to the staff who take the complaints and perform the services they typically do. 

 

Questions from the Commissioners

 

Voisin- What is your annual budget? Why are you going to cities and not a donor base?

 

Mr. Good - Our budget is below $500,000 a year for the whole state.  Mr. Good explained they have historically gone to CDGB jurisdictions for this particular type of funding and have gotten grants from Portland, Multnomah County, Eugene, Bend and Springfield. Over the years they have also received funds from Salem and Washington County. Mr. Good said that they do attempt to do fund raising from private donors, usually an event.  At the end of April they will be doing a bus tour in Portland of sites showing housing discrimination.  They found in the past if you go out to the general public to raise funds its not often there. People often look at what they do and think its services that should be funded by the government, raising private money can be difficult.

 

Lewis - In 2007 how many hotline calls did you get from Ashland? Do you have a source of clients other then the hotline?

 

Mr. Good – They received 19 calls and of those about 8 were referred on to an enforcement agency.  When they get a call on the hotline and after assessing the situation it might be beyond the stage where they can help them so they refer them to an enforcement agency of attorneys who might be able to get them compensation.  

 

They try and direct most people through the hotline because its one way to guarantee they can keep a record so clients don’t fall through the cracks.   They do have an email address which is found on the website which anyone can utilize.

 

Benjamin – Describe your staffing pattern.  Give us a typical scenario when you receive a complaint on the hotline. What would be the steps as they would apply in Ashland?

 

Mr. Good – Mr. Good said that they have nine employees two of which are part time.  One of the part time employees works predominately from home.

·         Mr. Good is the Acting director

·         Diane Hass is the Education Director

·         Two specialists assist Diane. 

·         Under enforcement they have two intake specialists who operate the hotline working 5 days a week from 9:00 to 4:30. 

·         Testing coordinator

·         One  full time Administrative person

·         Part time person helps with Administration

 

Mr. Good reviewed the steps they take when a call comes in. 

  • When the call comes in the staff person asks a series of questions and through that they are able to screen out if this is a landlord tenant problem or whether it’s actually a Fair Housing problem. 
  • If it is a Fair Housing problem they would then set an appointment with that person for an interview. Most of their interviews are done over the phone and takes about an hour. They gather Information about the incident they are complaining about and determine if the case is testable. 
  • Once the intake interview is completed they have a series of informal meetings as well as enforcement meetings at which time the intake person would discuss the situation with the testing coordinator and Mr. Good and come up with a plan of action.  If it’s testable the testing coordinator would assign a test for that situation. The testing would probably be done over the phone they don’t require to have people in Ashland to do the testing.  Once the testing results came back they would share the results with the complainant.  If the situation is not testable they would evaluate to see if there is any advocacy they could do and get them the housing they need. 
  • Actions taken might be: file with HUD, send to a private attorney or retest it.

 

Goldman thanked Mr. Good and explained that at this point the Housing Commission will go into deliberation regarding this as well as the expenditure of the remaining funds. Goldman will call Mr. Good back on April 2, 2008 and let him know the outcome.  This is the first meeting but City Council will be reviewing it on April 1, 2008. 

 

The Commissioners discussed this application.  Benjamin commented about the distance to Portland and wondered how effective a phone conversation could really be? His experience tells him they need a person present.  Hardesty, wondered how the testing would go if they can’t do it in person.  Goldman noted there is the center for non profit legal aid here who will accept calls in terms of fair housing violation if the Fair Housing Council of Oregon determined there was an issue. If the person is earns less then 80% median income they would qualify to be referred to the center for non profit legal service to get direct landlord/tenant  legal questions answered.

 

Graham asked if the measurement would be an increase in calls to the hotline. Goldman stated that it makes sense that if people aren’t aware that there are fair housing laws,  they’re not going to be calling.  Hauck said not only tenants but providers of housing would benefit from the education locally.

 

Billin made a motion to recommend to the City Council that the CDGB be expended as recommended by staff. 

 

Realizing that Cate Hartzell had filled out a speaker request form but not been given the opportunity to talk Billin made a motion to “unmove” [rescind]  the motion.

 

Voisin opened the public hearing for discussion.

 

Cate Hartzell spoke - Ms. Hartzell commented that though the proposal sounded like a decent effort she wondered what percentage of the calls they got from Ashland resulted in filings with HUD verses referring them to a separate attorney verses direct assistance. The Commissioners explained to Ms. Hartzell that Mr. Good told them eight of the nineteen calls were referred to other enforcement agencies.  Hauck explained that often they are already beyond what they can do for them. Ms. Hartzell asked if the money they will receive is going to be for the workshop or for fielding calls. The proposal says the money will be used for three workshops and the hotline. Ms. Hartzell said the reason she is asking is that she wants to be sure the Housing Commission knows where the benefit is and how much we would handle down here without them anyway. Voisin explained to Ms. Hartzell that they do three things, education, outreach and enforcement. 

 

Voisin closed the public hearing.

 

Hauck/Voisin m/s that the Housing Commission recommends to the City Council that the $10,000 be allocated as recommended by staff.  Voice Vote. Approved

 

Goldman said assuming the City Council concurs with the recommendation; an Action Plan will be developed and come back to the Housing Commission on April 24.  It will be drafted and available for the public to review as of April 15, 2008.

 

The Commissioners discussed the development of the Action Plan.

 

Voisin opened session for public comment on 2008 & 2009 CDGB Action Plan.

 

Cate Hartzell spoke – Ms. Hartzell informed the Commission that she is the Council Liaison to the County’s task force that is developing a 10 year plan to end chronic homelessness.  Ms. Hartzell wanted to stress the importance that anything in this consolidated plan that touches on homelessness should be a priority.  Goldman said there are two specific goals touching on homelessness goal four and goal five.  Goal four states to provide support of services for homeless prevention and transition into Housing.  This is essentially providing a non profit organization a grant to have a transitional Housing Specialist. Goal five is to encourage the development of emergency and transitional housing for homeless families with children and or individuals. Regarding our camping ban Ms Hartzell has learned that unless we can provide housing for homeless people we can’t ticket them.  It is a pressing problem and in a broader section of the community.  Hartzell wanted to encourage the Commission to be receptive to using  some of the CDGB money over the next couple of years to get housing to this part of the population. 

 

Hardesty asked if something like transportation between Ashland and the shelter in Medford could be something that would help. Ms. Hartzell believes the shelters should be in the Communities in which they live.

 

Closed the public hearing

 

REPORTS AND UPDATES

Subcommittee Reports

            Education – No meeting/no report

Land Use – No meeting/no report

Finance – No meeting/no report

 

Liaison Reports

Council – Hardesty referred to Ms. Hartzell and asked if she had any comments from the City Council meeting that might pertain to Housing.  Ms. Hartzell commented that the Council will be looking at the adoption of the economic opportunities analysis and the rental needs analysis.  Hardesty inquired about when the joint meeting will be held regarding the annexation and zone changes. Goldman noted that Planning Commissioner John Stromberg sent out an email to other Planning Commissioners asking for their participation in the Ad Hoc meeting.  Goldman has not heard back from him yet. Hardesty shared her concerns regarding the time table involved with the ordinance changes.  She is concerned that if there is housing in the Croman property master plan project and it is adopted before the recommendations for the zone changes that might trump what we want in terms of changes to the zone change ordinance.  Brandon’s understanding is that if a master plan was adopted your essentially establishing the comprehensive plan for that area.  In order to develop they would still have to go through an application for a zone change. 

 

Benjamin said the LCDC is recommending that communities look at the urban growth boundaries with the notion of locating areas of affordable housing.  They suggested that it be done on a voluntary basis. 

 

Planning Commission – No report

 

Ad-Hoc/Public Meeting Updates

Facilities Plan – Hardesty reported they met with the consultants who presented a first draft with changes and expansions within city departments and possible remodels to accommodate improvements needed and rearrangement of staff.  They took a look at city owned lands and yards.  The City has various yards with different pieces of equipment and they would like to consolidate them into one yard. On April 10, 2008 the Committee will be taking a tour of City owned property and the yards including the gun club.  April 24th at 6:00 will be an open house for the public at the Community Center.  Voisin said one issue being discussed is what to do with the second fire house. Hardesty is hoping that the consolidation of yards will provide some excess City owned land that they can put affordable housing on or sell and put affordable housing somewhere else. Graham is working with Ashland Service Club for Healthy Choices in getting the Grove revitalized as a teen center.  They are a group of service club people who meet to look at sustainable ways for youth and parents in Ashland make healthy choices about lifestyle. 

 

Croman Master Plan – Benjamin reported that there were four alternatives presented.  Benjamin was specifically looking at the possibility of affordable housing opportunities.  He felt that the consultants were somewhat dismissive of it.  Affordable/workforce housing was not really discussed at all.  Benjamin said the main topics dealt with whether to have light industry verses campus type high tech development.  They also presented an introduction of an alternate thoroughfare.  Graham said that one of the proposals takes Tolman Creek Road and turns it more into a neighborhood street rather then it being an arterial street.  The arterial from Ashland Street up to Siskiyou would run directly through the new development. Graham’s understanding from attending some of the meetings is that ODOT would be happy to swap their property on Mistletoe for other property that would continue to give them ready access to I-5 and the pass for snow issue.

 

Goldman gave an update on the Strawberry property.  The final survey for the three lots on Strawberry is going to the City Council on April 1, 2008 for signature as a consent agenda item.  Once that is done then those properties will be able to be sold individually.  The City will market them and the intention to use them for affordable housing has already been established. The monies from that sale will be designated for affordable housing. 

 

Tour of Affordable Housing Projects – Goldman gave a suggested list of four housing projects to tour, two in Ashland and two in Medford.  The newest project is the Maple Terrace apartments which were completed by The Housing Authority of Jackson County. It was decided the tour would be on Friday April 25, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. Meet at the Community Development Building.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS AND MEETINGS

Brandon reminded the commissioners that it is imperative that the next meeting have a quorum because they will be discussing the CDBG Action Plan approval and the Housing Commission  is the final decision maker in that regard. It doesn’t go back to council.

 

The Commissioners discussed the idea of having the meetings earlier though a decision was not made yet.  Next month the Housing Commission Regular meeting will be held on April 24, 2008 between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

 

Finance Meeting – April 15, 2008 at 5:00

 

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 7:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by, Carolyn Schwendener

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