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Housing Commission Minutes 4-24-2008

Minutes
Thursday, April 24, 2008

ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION

MINUTES

April 24, 2008

 

CALL TO ORDER

Chair Bill Smith called the meeting to order at 4:06 p.m. at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building, 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR  97520.

 

Commissioners Present:

Richard Billin

 

SOU Liaison:  Alexandra Armarotico, Absent

Carol Voisin

 

 

Graham Lewis

 

Council Liaison:  Alice Hardesty

Regina Ayars

 

 

Bill Smith

 

Staff Present:: 

Aaron Benjamin

 

Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist

 

 

Carolyn Schwendener, Account Clerk

Commissioners Absent

 

 

Steve Hauck

 

 

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Voisin/Billin m/s to approve the minutes of the March 27, 2008 meeting.  Voice Vote:  Approved

 

New Housing Commissioner Nick Frost was welcomed.

 

Smith added an Agenda item under Ad Hoc/Public Meeting Updates - Council Communication regarding proposed Annexation Ordinance Changes

 

PUBLIC FORUM

No one came forth to speak.

 

REPORTS AND UPDATES

Subcommittee Report

        Education – No meeting/no report

        Land Use – No meeting/no report

        Finance – Billin reported that Goldman presented some of the platform base ideas the committee had worked on to the City Attorney. The City Attorney made recommendations on how to put it in ordinance form. The committee felt it would make more since to have a broad general enabling ordinance pass by City Council and then the platform ideas could be a different format so that it doesn’t have to be part of the ordinance itself, but can be something that could be adjusted or amended without going through the ordinance approval process.  The Committee’s next step is to present to the City Council financing options with ideas on how to start funding the Housing Trust Fund.

 

        Goldman said he will be drafting the ordinance language and a separate resolution that takes the platform that this Commission looked at previously putting it into a resolution format.  The resolution would be adopted simultaneously to the ordinance that enacts the formation of the housing trust fund.  Goldman explained that an ordinance essentially says that the City hereby establishes a Housing Trust Fund as enacted in resolution 2008-XXX.  The resolution itself is that platform that the Commissioners have worked on that outlines who the eligible applicants are, where the funds can be used, for what purposes, eligible activities and the RFP award process.

 

Goldman gave an appraisal update on the land swap properties on Westwood and Strawberry that will be used to acquire the 10 acres on Clay Street. The four lots potentially created on Westwood are valued at $415,000 each.  The three lots on Strawberry were appraised at $400,000, $410,000 and $385,000. Due to the time that has lapsed and project scope changes a new full appraisal will take place at the Clay Street property in order to help inform the Parks Commission and Council as to whether or not to acquire the property.

 

 

Liaison Reports

Council – Hardesty announced that there is a City Council Study Session May 5, 2008 6:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers. At the Study Session Goldman said the Council will be looking over what the work program is as well as the development of the Housing Trust Fund, land use activities that have been done, education and outreach, project administration, CDBG and project development.  They will discuss what percentage of time is allocated to each project looking to determine which should be top priorities.   Goldman said he will also provide the Council with what has been accomplished in terms of number of units.  A 200 unit goal was decided upon in 2006.  Goldman acknowledged that between 2004 and 2008 62 units were created with an additional 59 in the pipeline.  Hardesty encouraged the Commission to not go to far away from the 200 goal. 

 

Hardesty said the Council briefly discussed the use of a portion of the 30% of the increase of the TOT [transient occupancy tax] for the Housing Trust Fund. 

 

Parks – No report.

School Board – No report.

Planning Commission– No report.

 

Ad-Hoc/Public Meeting Updates

Facilities Plan – Voisin reported that at their meeting they received several plans from the developer as to how various City buildings could be rearranged and reconfigured.  The Committee reviewed the costs to renovate the different buildings and the developers will bring them the bottom line as to the cost for what will need to be done.  The Committee took a tour of City owned property and they will be working on how to meet the needs of the departments and what they need in terms of space. 

 

Hardesty said they discussed the possibility of moving parts of the City staff including the finance department to the Grove along with remodeling the Grove to include conference rooms. Lewis said there has been a lot of energy from High School students to revamp the Grove as a Youth facility.  They also discussed taking the room that is designed to be a commercial kitchen and have a student run coffee shop. 

 

Hardesty shared that the gun club is a very large parcel of land and its lease is up in 2009.  The Council has already been getting many letters asking to renew the lease early.  The possibility of relocating the City yards to the Gun Club was discussed which would free up some land in the City.  Hardesty acknowledged it might be difficult to make large changes with the upcoming budget cuts.

 

SDC Committee – no report

 

Annexation and Zone Change Ordinances 

Goldman confirmed that in March of this year the Housing Commission reviewed what was originally presented back in March of 2007 regarding changes to the annexation and zone change ordinances in order to facilitate the development of affordable housing.  The proposed changes are also intended to establish a means of insuring the units are being built in a timely manner, that the units are commensurate with the full development in terms of unit size, distribution of the affordable housing units, target percentages of affordability, and identifity the potential for cash in-lieu fees and land dedication. 

 

Commissioners discussed the proposed changes in order to make recommendations to the Ad Hoc Committee to look at incorporating these changes. 

 

Regarding construction standards:  Voisin/ Billin  m/s that the Commission recommend the minimum unit size be 375 square feet.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

Regarding percentage of affordability: Hardesty/Billin m/s that the Housing Commission revise the requirements in the Percentage of Affordability section such that in item  ‘c’ the words or rental would be deleted and in item ‘d’ the number 80% be changed to 60% and that they make these recommendations on the part of the Commission to the Ad Hoc committee.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM

2008-2009 CDBG Action Plan – Goldman reviewed the Action Plan that outlines how the City will explicitly be using CDBG funds in the coming year and goes into some measure of detail in terms of non CDBG funded activities that the City does that supports the goals of the CDBG program outline. 

 

The City Council in addition to awarding the $10,000 to the Fair Housing Council of Oregon stated that the remaining CDBG funds shall be made available to support eligible affordable housing related activities such as land acquisition, public facility improvements and or housing preservation in the 2008 CDBG action plan.

 

The $10,000 awarded to the Fair Housing Council of Oregon was for education on fair housing and enforcement of Fair Housing Law. Goldman said a project will need to be identified to spend the remaining $346,522 on before the end of the 2008-2009 fiscal year.  The money needs to be spent by May 15th of 2009.  Because of the time line they may be looking at land acquisition.  Once they identify a project this Action Plan will come back before the Housing Commission and City Council for review and approval.  It is not explicit enough for HUD standards to allocate the funds for land acquisitions in general, a modified Action Plan will  need to identify the particular property and the number of units to be provided said Goldman.

 

Goldman pointed out to the Commissioners that one of the social service grants goes to Interfaith Care Community in the amount of $13,600.  ICC is closing their Ashland Facility and will no longer be providing their services in Ashland.  They do have a Medford facility they will be continuing to use.

 

Public Hearing:

 

Judith Benjamin co-president of the League of Woman voters of Ashland spoke.  Ms. Benjamin is here speaking on behalf of the issues of the homeless.  Ms. Benjamin explained that the League of Women voters is a non partisan political organization that encourages voter participation and encourages education and action on the part of citizens to get them involved in government.  The League has consideration for all aspects of government including social policy and they have long been concerned about the issue of homelessness.  Ms. Benjamin said that since 1995 they have had a policy of the homeless.  She read their policy out loud to the Commissioners.

 

In February the League had a forum specifically on homeless in Ashland.  The forum reflected a wide range of interest and as a result of that forum a lot of suggestions were presented.  Ms. Benjamin explained that Community Works is starting a program where host families will provide temporary housing for homeless youth. A suggestion of a coalition of both civic groups and City officials who could come up with proposals that would be appropriate for the City to implement was made at their February meeting.  Most notably was the suggestion that there be a staff person from the City who would focus on social policy and social programs, which would include the homeless. 

 

Ms Benjamin said the County’s task force, in response to the federal program on the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, has a report that will be coming out soon.   It’s possible that report might include the type of program that has been popular in the larger cities in the United States referred to as Housing First for Homeless.  Ms. Benjamin said that when the Commissioners talk about applying  funds to buying property perhaps it could be a house for homeless.  The League is interested in working with the City and whatever organizations that are interested in the problem to come up with solutions and programs that the City can implement.  Ms. Benjamin proposed the question can the CDBG action plan include any of this? 

 

The Commissioners discussed the Action Plan 

 

Because ICC will close April 30th Benjamin asked that if the ICC structure is empty again is it the kind of situation that might be eligible for CDBG funds? Goldman answered that as far as putting housing on that property it runs into difficulty because of the proximity to the railroad tracks. The noise attenuation doesn’t meet HUD standards for permanent housing but as far as direct services to homeless it would be eligible.  Goldman posed the question “Does the Action Plan currently as drafted have the latitude to apply funds for these use?”   Goldman believes  goal 3 and goal 5 to provide supportive services would address this use. He further stated that there is the latitude to allow use of CDBG for a homeless facility, though they couldn’t use CDBG to fund a housing shelter in Medford. Goldman said there is allowance that 15% of the annual award amount can be applied towards social services.  Council has awarded $10,000 to Fair Housing Council of Oregon which leaves $20,000 that technically could be applied to a social service application for direct benefits to low income people or homeless through a modification to the Action Plan.

 

Graham said at the meeting on Saturday the possibility of a consortium of people, churches, city etc was discussed to put together enough money to lease the part of the building were ICC has been, have Saint Vincent DePaul locate there, have other volunteers be trained by them. and maybe even a paid staff person.  The food bank is still a pretty active agency in the other part of the building. Graham said they are hoping that the owner, Alan DeBoer, will be interested in working with them like he did with ICC.  Hardesty volunteered to call Alan DeBoer and discuss the possibilities.  

 

Goldman will take the discussion that the Commissioners had tonight and incorporate it into the comment section of the Action Plan so that it is not a new item. Goldman will also incorporate in the comment section that there was concern about the $13,600 allocated to ICC and it should be discussed. 

 

Graham/Billin m/s to approve the Action Plan one year use of funds for the year 2008.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

 

UPCOMING EVENTS AND MEETINGS

It was agreed by the Commissioners to have the regular Housing meetings at 4:30p.m. to 6:30p.m.  The public hearing part of the meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. to allow time for the working community to attend. 

 

Goldman reminded the Commissioners of the Housing tour at 2:00 tomorrow April 25, 2008.  Housing Authority, Betty McRoberts will be present to talk about the Maple terrace site.

 

Goldman announced that the City hired Linda Reid as the new Housing Program Specialist. She is currently from the Housing Authority and has verbally accepted the position.  She might be able to attend the May 22, 2008 meeting.

 

Finance committee will meet on the 13th and the 20th of May at 5:00 p.m. in the Community Development Building at 51 Winburn Way.

 

Graham encouraged everyone to come over to the Old Ashland Armory at 6:30 on April 30th for the community discussion on Ashland’s future.

 

Ayers announced that there will be a League of Woman Voters forum tomorrow night at Council Chambers.  They will have 5 County Commissioners’ candidates present.

 

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 5:50 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Carolyn Schwendener, Account Clerk

 

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