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Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)


Thursday, March 26, 2009



March 26, 2009




Chair Bill Smith called the meeting to order at 4:35 p.m. at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building, 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR  97520.


Commissioners Present:


SOU Liaison:  Alexandra Amarotico, absent

Richard Billin       



Regina Ayars      


Council Liaison:  Carol Voisin

Steve Hauck



Bill Smith


Staff Present:

Aaron Benjamin


Linda Reid, Housing  Specialist

Alice Hardesty


Carolyn Schwendener, Account Clerk

Graham Lewis arrived at 4:40


Brandon Goldman, Long Range Planner

Nick Frost arrived at 4:45








Voisin/Hauck m/s to approve the minutes of the February 26, 2009 Housing Commission meeting. Voice Vote:  Approved



Reid spoke on behalf of the Homeless Task Force.  The Homeless Task Force will be doing “Project Homeless Connect” and are looking for volunteers and sponsors.  This is a one day event held on June 5, 2009 for homeless people living in the Rogue Valley to receive services such as vision screening, employment counseling, haircuts, clothing, meals etc.


Smith made a change to the agenda exchanging item number four, Sub-Committee reports, with items five and six, CDBG application presentations and staff discussion and recommendation.



Reid acknowledged that the City of Ashland is an Entitlement Community and receives Community Development Block Grant Funds to help with low income housing and different activities that serve low income people as well as for economic development. This year the City received three applications for the CDBG funds; this year’s allocation is estimated to be around $204,818.000 leaving a total of $165,367.00 available to be awarded.  Reid commented that in the evaluation packet the staff proposed some potential motions.  Please know that there are many potential motions that are available and the Housing Commission is certainly welcome to propose their own, stated Reid.


Smith mentioned there has been a discussion regarding supplemental funds becoming available.  Brandon Goldman recognized that there might be additional stimulus funds in the amount of $55,000.  If that is the case then an RFP would be issued immediately as it would be a separate award process.   The city has not received the guidelines for those funds at this point.



HABITAT FOR HUMANITY ROGUE VALLEY (requesting $164,000) - Denise James, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity Rogue Valley explained that Habitat builds houses for people that are low income who are living in sub-standard conditions and who are willing to partner with them.  Habitat for Humanity looks for land to purchase or have donated to them.  The houses are built from the ground up with volunteer labor using as many professional services that are donated to them or highly discounted.  The families are required to commit to five hundred hours of sweat equity towards building the home. When the house is complete Habitat sells them for the cost of construction with a thirty year no interest mortgage.  Habitat carries the note and uses the monthly income to reinvest into more houses for other families. Ms. James acknowledged that Habitat has currently built thirty-three houses with zero foreclosures in the twenty-one years they have been present in the Rogue Valley.  Habitat does not go back and regulate the buyers’ income or require them to stay at a low income level because they want to see families do better for themselves and look at this as a “Hand up Opportunity.” 


Habitat’s proposal is asking for $164,000 to acquire land off of Tolman Creek Road at the old Bud’s Dairy subdivision.  Habitat has made an agreement with Russ Dale, owner of the property, to purchase the land at a discounted rate.  The project will consist of six houses and they anticipate beginning construction as early as March of 2010. 


Commissioners Questions

The homes are targeted to 80% Area Medium Income (AMI) families.  How much would you be selling the houses for?

The target is between 30% and 60% AMI for the first owners and then 80% AMI for the second owner.   The houses would sale for the cost of construction which is averaging a little over $100,000. 


Would you also be charging the owners’ for the land?

Its part of the purchase price.  The cost covers both the land and the house.



Would it be deed restricted for affordability for 30 years?

It was stated in the proposal that Habitat would have a thirty year affordability which is the life of the mortgage.  Ms. James said however they do not have a problem extending that to sixty years.


Why has it taken so long to get started on the Bridge Street houses?

Ashland Community Land Trust purchased that property with CDBG funding.  Habitat is working in partnership with them.  They are currently working on this project and the original time frame was to begin work now.  They did have a family in the Medford area that had severe needs consequently they made that family a priority pushing the other project back a bit.


Mr. Dale is obligated to provide affordable housing as part of his annexation and density bonus agreement.  Do you see a possibility of him offering it to you for less or even free?

No, though they did try.  They were told that he still owes $170,000 on the property.


Do you have a specific source of financing for the construction?

Thirty-eight percent of all their donations are from individuals.  A Large percentage is from Foundation and Grant money as well as community partners who donate specific services and construction materials.  Habitat has a re-store which is providing an income to them. Though they do not have specific dollars set aside they are confident they will get the money said Ms. James.


Normally in condominiums the owner is required to maintain his own portion of land.  Will this be the case in your project or will it be collectively maintained?  This is an important consideration as it might add to the monthly cost.

Ms. James said she did not know for sure.  If there is an association in existence then they might be joining that.  What the rules of the association are is not known at this time.  Currently Habitat has three other small condominium arrangements where families do pay association fees and are responsible for small common areas they take care of.


Is this one big building?

Originally it was going to be apartments but Habitat will be making them two bedroom condominiums.


Do you have people in mind to build?

Not at this time.  Typically it takes about six months and they are just beginning the process.  They would target Ashland though they would not be able to exclude others outside the community?


How do you recruit?

They have people that come to them constantly and have a list of interested clients.  Other organizations and agencies send people to them also.  When they get ready to go through the process they hold an orientation meeting and send out invitations to all the people, churches as well as newspaper ads.  Try to get the word out to everybody.


Do you have your perspective home buyers go through home buying budgeting classes?

They do have budgeting classes as well as a home maintenance workshop.  Ms. James said they will be bringing on an Americorps/Vista person whose position will be tasked with developing stronger home owner education programs.


Is the criterion for awarding funds that the services be rendered in Ashland or people living in Ashland how does that affect this?

Reid stated that for land acquisition as an activity, would make it exempt.  If it were a service that was being provided then it has to service predominately Ashland people. 


If you do not receive all of the funding will you still do the project?



Ms. James closed the discussion by saying that because Habitat doesn’t have as strong a presence in Ashland as they would like when they begin building on Bridge Street they plan on having some community informational meetings to try and build some partnerships within just Ashland that they currently don’t have.   


HOUSING AUTHORITY OF JACKSON COUNTY (requesting $164,000) – Betty Mc Roberts, Director of Development, has returned to ask for additional funds for the infrastructure to benefit a sixty unit low income development located on Clay Street.    Prior to this application the City of Ashland awarded CDBG funds to the HAJC in the amount of $345,000.   HAJC has submitted their application to the Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) for the consolidated funding cycle on February 27, 2009.  Mrs. Mc Roberts believes they have a good chance of being funded.  Key Community Development Corporation (Key Banks) has been the investor for their last two projects and has agreed to do this project mainly because they like Ashland.  The Housing Authority has a letter of commitment from both Key Bank as the equity investor and from US Bank for the financing. 


Mrs. Mc Roberts stated that in their last application a total of $600,000 in Home Dollars was shown in the pro-forma.  Home Dollars are Federal Grants to the States to help build housing. Those Grants come with more regulations then even the CDBG funds, requiring environmental reviews etc. all of which take six to nine months to complete. The Housing Authority removed that money from the budget because readiness to proceed is one thing that will help them get funded through OHCS.  That decision was made because the State will want to fund a project that will be on the ground in the fall and the Housing Authority is planning to break ground on October 1, 2009. 


Mrs. Mc Roberts believes that over the next couple of years the tax credit financing will be fairly slim.  A certain block of Low Income Housing Tax Credits are awarded from the IRS to the State of Oregon and then they are given out to projects.  In order to help these projects this year the State is awarding 130% to difficult to develop areas and Ashland is one of those. The Housing Authority will find out in May if the State awards them the project.


There is a significant amount of infrastructure required on this project. The Housing Authority is getting ready to receive bids on the Clay Street improvement portion that will be done with the first portion of the CDBG funds that have already been awarded.  That project should be completed by June 2009. 



Goldman addressed the issue of the related Planning Action across the street known as Coming Attractions in which ODOT conditioned that that project install a median down the center of the street.  If the median is installed it would make a right hand turn lane redundant because you could only turn right.  That projects timing and this one still is a condition of approval that one or the other be installed.  If this project is finished first then that right hand turn lane is something that would have to be permitted through ODOT.  Mrs. Mc Roberts said the HAJC will probably beat the other project as they anticipate having it completed within a year consequently making it necessary to install the right hand turn. 


Commissioners Questions

If we don’t fund this project what do you cut out?

Nothing.  It puts a strain on the Housing Authority.


Are the letters from the banks letters of interest or actual letters of commitment?

Banks don’t give letters of commitment until they have underwritten the project.  These letters from the Banks are actually more then Mrs. Mc Roberts expected. 


Internal Streets are not going to be finished until the end but CDBG funds need to be spent within a year? 

Reid said they didn’t necessarily have to spend all of the money within a year but that the City could not carry more then one and a half times its allocation.  A portion of the first funds that were granted to HAJC must be spent or HUD could take them back. Mrs. Mc Roberts said it is nice for the contractors to be able to do everything without cutting into the streets, its a lot less wear and tear on the streets. 


If the HAJC were awarded this money would they be able to do full street improvements on the South Side Street?

It’s not in their budget. Mrs. Mc Roberts’ concern was that if it’s not in the planning recommendation doesn’t it taint the City’s property on the other side.   Goldman said that the staff recommendation was that in the event that the Housing Authority received full allocation of $164,000 it be conditioned upon those improvements to that section of the street be done at this point so that the future phase doesn’t have to incur those costs.  The change in timing to do it now as opposed to doing it at phase two is not a change in conditions.  Mrs. Mc Roberts estimated that if they did indeed go ahead and do the street improvements it would be around another $50,000 or $60,000.


If you only received $130,000 how would that affect the project?

The Housing Authority does not have a lot of money itself.  Every time they do a development and get developer fees they take it to the next project. That pot of money right now is being used to guarantee all the projects, making the Housing Authority a little nervous.  


How confident are you that you can complete this project within a year?

We have had no problems completing other projects in this time frame.


How many jobs will this project generate? 

This is an eleven million dollar project, seven million in construction.  The State of Oregon says that for every dollar spent at least two dollars is generated in the community.  Reid recently read an article regarding the ripple affect of construction employment into the community which says that each housing units employs at least four people. 


Define what an Equity Investor is?

A person who buys the tax credits.  Maple Terrace in Medford was purchased for 97 cents on the dollar, Scenic Heights 92 cents on the dollar and this project will be 80 cents on the dollar. Due to the economy nobody has any profit so they don’t need any tax credits creating a lower value.


PATHWAY ENTERPRISES (requesting $30,000). – Becky Simpson, CEO of Pathway Enterprises was present to represent the citizens of Ashland that Pathway supports.  Pathway Enterprises provides supported living and employment services to adults with developmental disabilities and or mental illnesses.  They provide 24 hour care if needed and they are the seventh largest employer in Southern Oregon. They employ both people with disabilities and without disabilities. Pathways proposal is to use the money as seed money to hire three new staff members in order to get their supportive living project off the ground.  They already have the certificate from the State which means they are ready to go.  The County has verbally given their support for identified funds for individuals they already support for living in their group homes.  Pathway has two group homes in Ashland, one they own and one they rent, one in Phoenix and two in Medford.


Out of the ten individuals that live in Ashland four of them have indicated that this is their community of choice, this is where their friends are, where they recreate and where they shop, the Ashland community is the community that they are most familiar with. The Pathway staff does not make decisions for the individuals they serve.  Their mission is to allow individuals choices and opportunities and help them attain their dreams and visualize what they can have in life.    “We understand that human beings have rights and when they are institutionalized their choices are taken away.  When given opportunities individuals will grow and thrive” said Ms. Simpson. 


Commissioners Questions

With $28,400 for wages how many people does this cover and for how long?

It says within the body of the grant that Pathway will match 10% of the funding, but actually they are ready to go over and above the matching to make this happen.  A Director has already been hired and three individuals will be hired who will be the Community Living Specialists.  They will receive intense training to insure that the people will be able to move from a group home to an apartment or duplex.  The money goes to salaries and they will be done spending it by the end of the year.  Once the project gets started the County’s money will then help with the on going support.


Reid commented that Marketing and Outreach are not eligible for the funds.  (Pathway’s requested $28,400 for wages and $1,600 for marketing and outreach). 


Are all clients in group homes and is this your first attempt to put people into their own apartments? How confident are you that the people will be able to make that transition?

Pathway has an entire assessment process to help them identify folks that could be successful in this process.  Part of supportive living and insuring people are successful is that you offer the support needed to insure success.  Pathway fully intends to provide the support needed.


Review the funding again.

Pathway has a separate janitorial employment service division that is growing.  They service some City buildings, SOU; Jackson County buildings etc. and make money to put back into the program.  Wages will meet the Ashland living wage requirements.


Could you explain what the Brokerage agent is?

The County gives us money to help support someone with a disability.  The County can chose to pay the brokerage to find someone housing and employment.  The brokerage would then call Pathway and inquire if they have housing available or employment and then pay them. 


You need the $30,000 this year and the projection is that the program will generate the money next year. Why do you need the money now?

They did not have the service contracts in place until recently.


Tell us how the original group homes were established and financed.

In the 1980’s there was a deinstitutionalization across the nation at which time the State asked individuals to take people back into the communities.  The State no longer wanted to house people in large institutions; it was a human rights issue as well as needing to become more cost effective.   Ms. Simpson does not remember where the initial funding came from though now it comes from the State through the County.


Does the County rent facilities or buy them?

They just represent an individual.  Pathway tells the County how much they need for the budget to support that person and the County continues to pay on a monthly basis.  Typically the cost is about $3,600.00 a month to support an individual.


Do you have a place identified yet?

Not yet, but Ms. Simpson has been checking out what the community has to offer.


When the time comes to find the appropriate places for their living you’re hoping you can find something in Ashland and that is affordable.

I’m very determined stated Ms. Simpson. Not sure how to assure you 100% that the homes will be in Ashland but as the staff developing this project it is my intent. I have no doubt there are places around Ashland that will be appropriate for the folks that we support.  Reid acknowledged that the CDBG funds would be taken back if a majority of the homes were not in Ashland.


What additional type of training would the Community Living Specialist receive?

The State requires training from the OAR’s, along with CPR, first aid, and Oregon intervention systems.  It’s important that all staff receive the same training to insure that each client receives the same support no matter who helps.   


CDBG Award Discussion and Recommendation

The Commissioners agreed that these are three great projects and there is not enough money to fund them all.


Hardesty believes that it’s very important to support the HAJC at this point in time in their project development.  This project will provide housing for sixty families as well as jobs which will stimulate the Ashland economy.  Hardesty is a little concerned about the HAJC sources of funds and feels that the City needs to support them strongly.  She would recommend that they receive the entire amount of CDBG funds. 


Hauck added that the HAJC proposal meets the highest priority need ranking as outlined in the CDBG project proposal rating criteria.   


Ayars agrees with funding the HAJC also for the same reasons.  She really likes the idea of the additional employment that will be brought into the Community because of this project. All three projects are worthy stated Ayars.  The Pathway project is wonderful and she would like to see them funded maybe with additional funds from the stimulus plan if they become available.  She is supportive of the entire amount given to HAJC.


Hardesty acknowledged that the Habitat project is a good one and would like to see them more active in our community. She would like to see Mr. Dale give away the Clay Street property because he has the obligation to create affordable housing there.  It would benefit the community greatly if he did so, said Hardesty. 


Frost agrees with the support of HAJC but had two concerns.  He would like to see other people get a chance next cycle at funding and is concerned in making sure the money is spent in a timely manner.


Lewis supports Habitat for Humanity as he would really like to see them in Ashland.  It sounds like the Housing Authority will be doing the project regardless though he does support their project.


Billin commented that it feels they are too far into the Clay Street project to not support them at this point.  He was concerned about Goldman’s proposal regarding the full street improvements as it seems like the HAJC are bumping up against enough problems as it is.


Benjamin confirmed that all three proposals are worth considering positively and hopes in the future they all will be funded.   He agrees with Lewis in that he would like to see Habitat take a more active role in Ashland.  He is completely in support of the Clay Street project and feels there is no choice but to see the project completed in a timely manner.  Benjamin looks forward to future funding for the Habitat proposals and acknowledged there is no doubt in his mind that pathways goal is a noble effort and will do everything in their power to implement these goals.


Smith asked, “Worst case scenario, if Snowberry doesn’t happen what happens to the money.”  Reid responded that the Clay Street improvements will be started soon and some of that money will go into it anyway so we will meet our timeliness for this year.  If it didn’t come about then we would take the rest back and quickly do another RFP.


Hardesty/Hauck m/s to recommend funding the Housing Authority of Jackson County $165,367 to fund public facilities improvements, public right of way improvements on Clay Street and on interior streets.  Voice vote:  Motion passed 8-1.


The Commissioners strongly encouraged Habitat for Humanity and Pathways to continue to submit proposals and apply for funds.



Sub-committee Reports


Finance – The sub-committee met and has started looking at potential funding mechanisms.


Education – No report


Land Use – No report


Liaison Reports

Council – Voisin suggested that the Commissioners begin some conversation regarding development transfer credits during the retreat.  She also stated that the budget is really bad and services are going to have to be cut.


Parks Commission – No report


School Board – No report


Planning Commission – Benjamin said that the Planning Commission had a lengthy discussion on the Croman Site with a lot of confusion regarding its timeline.   Some Planning Commissioners didn’t seem aware that the project had been under consideration for over a year.  Bill Molnar said that the final presentation will probably be ready in the fall.  Commissioner Dimitre mentioned that not enough consideration had been given to workforce housing. 


SOU – No report



Homeless discussion

It was suggested to invite Melanie Mindlin to talk about the possibility of co-housing.  



Next Housing Commission Regular Meeting – Thursday, April 23, 2009 between 4:30–6:30p.m., Community Development Building


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 6:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by, Carolyn Schwendener


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