February 27, 2012
Ad hoc Homelessness Steering Committee
Ashland Public Library
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Ayers, Parker, Lewis, Rohde, O’Bryon, Hopkins-Powell, Reid (City staff)
Voisin (Council liaison)
Slattery (Council Liaison)
Agenda Item #1: Call to Order
Parker called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m.
Agenda Item #2: Approval of Minutes
Hopkins-Powell/Parker to approve the minutes with corrections of the February 8th
Agenda Item #3: La Clinica Van Update.
The La Clinica Van is currently operating at the United Methodist Church on Tuesday’s from 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Heidi needs a back-up volunteer that will need training by Community Works. So far each client is taking a little longer than originally anticipated. No website will be created for sign-up due to confidentiality concerns. Waiting clients are given color coded signs so that they can get in line to eat while waiting. Drop-ins are welcome. Dental services are expected to be available in mid-March.
Agenda Item #4: Donation Box update.
Printed verbiage-Small Change can make a significant difference. Give a hand up not a hand out to those in need. Support Ashland in Offering Real Alternatives to Panhandling.
No agency has been selected yet to be in charge of the donation boxes. Community Works is willing to act in that capacity. Peoples Bank will receive the monies, where was a suggestion to hold the money and build a balance. Possible locations for the boxes would be the Plaza, The Black Swan, Sound Peace, or Evos. The Chamber will purchase the boxes.
Question; who will decide how the money is spent?
Agenda Item #5: Review Goals and assign sub-committees to work on each goal.
Goal #1-O’Bryon pulled the SOU code of conduct.
Healthier more inviting environment downtown
Identify a list of behaviors that are uncomfortable
Create a volunteer group of people to meet with the person displaying the unwanted behavior.
Create a plan for consequences
Peer intervention is very effective, it works on campus and at Uncle Foods, the repercussions of continued bad behavior can be more stringent, the group could suggest reducing the number of infractions before the consequences are meted out.
Some of the behaviors that are identified in the SOU Code of Conduct:
Disorderly conduct, loud, aggressive, profane, abusive, drunken, and/or other behavior which is Disruptive, excessive noise, harassment, theft, discrimination, sexual misconduct, possession of weapons.
Lewis expressed concerns about the volunteers having proper training to handle disorderly people.
O’Bryon stated that the peer group volunteers at SOU do receive extensive training.
Parker added that anti-bullying/bystander awareness, and teaching people to speak up when they see disrespectful behavior would be helpful in a training as well. Parker also pointed out that the behaviors mentioned in the SOU code of conduct do not target certain populations.
Ayars said that shoplifting of items valued under $50 is a class C misdemeanor and therefore is not a jail able offence. When Ayars conducted interviews with the downtown business owners they stated that theft was the biggest problem. If the amount on shoplifting were lowered then it would be more enforceable.
Rohde stated that he is a conscientious objector to goal #1’s outcome, but that whatever is included in the list of behaviors has to be illegal, not just behaviors that are not illegal: items such as: drinking in public, physical violence, sexual predation, Rohde would also like to see added to the list, tax delinquency, fraud, parking ticket/meter delinquency. With regard to people self policing, it has happened in the past, and some people have been threatened with physical violence. There would have to have training. The schools have extensive training and there is also a diversion program, developmental education, similar to the peer court at the high school.
Hopkins-Powell asked if the City moves forward with implementing an exclusion zone using existing laws, would the City Council be open to input.
Lewis stated that he thought that the Council would be open to input on alternatives to an exclusion zone that helps people get off the streets, Lewis felt that they would be open to any practical and affordable alternative.
Parker felt that the committee should take the things that are actually illegal and make sure that there are alternatives.
Audience member Coyner was recognized by the chair. She stated that under certain circumstances she might be supportive of an exclusionary zone, although she also felt that there will be a very vocal portion of the population who will oppose one. Coyner’s main concerns regarding an exclusionary zone would be any provisions that would allow for the possibility of profiling, selective enforcement, and that any ordinance include alternatives, Coyner wondered if it would be possible to frame the ordinance to mitigate those concerns. Coyner has been looking at the crimes published in the newspaper and has noticed that the majority of the crimes that happened downtown and that are perpetrated by repeat offenders are either theft, drug crimes (primarily alcohol) or camping. Coyner has also attended several court sessions and she agrees with Chief Holderness in that there are several repeat offenders who have no accountability under the current system as fines are not a deterrent to individuals who have no money and no intention of paying the fines. The police need something to act as a deterrent to this population. Coyner brought an article from the Medford Mail Tribune on the exclusionary zone ordinance that was recently passed by the City of Medford. The City of Medford does not list Camping as one of the crimes that counted toward the offenses that count toward exclusionary zone offenses.
O’Bryon pointed out that the Medford ordinance defines a lot of what the HSC has been discussing. If the HSC wanted to put forward something that like the Medford ordinance just dealt with City properties and parks, the HCS should organize a proposal that hits the areas that have the most issues.
Parker suggested that the HSC form a sub-committee to meet with Chief Holderness to work on a proposal.
Ayars asked if that meant that the HSC is endorsing an exclusionary zone.
Parker stated that that is the question
Hopkins-Powell wondered if there was another way to frame it.
Coyner mentioned that the HSC should consider some way to remove the offenders from the downtown, as that is where they are able to panhandle, busk, or sell wares, removing them from their source of income is a deterrent. Those homeless people who get fined and want to pay don’t have the ability to do so, the judge often reduces the fines but the fees must be paid. Many of the homeless say that they would be willing to do community service to work of the fines, but community service cannot pay for the fees that are imposed by the state.
O’Bryon commented that it is difficult to find community service opportunities in Ashland.
Reid mentioned that the City of Medford has coordinated with providers of services to homeless populations to allow people to work off their community service hours.
Rohde stated that Oregon Action is one of those providers of services that allow people to complete community service hours at their office. Rohde pointed out that the coordination is done through the county court system rather than the City of Ashland, and that it is time consuming for agencies to organize and oversee community service participants. The organization has to have a vested interest in serving that population.
Parker brought up a youth diversion program formerly run through the police department and run by Jan Janssen. Parker will contact Miss Janssen to see what she thinks about this question.
Rhode suggested that the HSC keep the item open if it re-emerges then come to discuss it, however Rohde was more interested in goal #2, working on the narrative and would be willing to serve on a sub-committee to work on that.
O’Bryon has gathered community survey information from other communities, that last time the HSC discussed the idea of holding a forum or coming up with survey questions no decision was made.
Coyner has been working to organize a community discussion co-sponsored by the chamber and the coalition.
Parker stated that she believes that the original charge to the HSC was backwards; it should have been to study issues surrounding homelessness in our community, to come at it from different directions, and to recommend proposals to improve the situation. Instead, we were asked to solicit proposals from community members with no knowledge of the deeper, underlying issues, and try to connect these ideas with agencies able to implement them. As we have worked to address the issues over the past year, we have gained some understanding of the magnitude and complexity of the problems, as illustrated by our discussion tonight.
SOU, the City and the Chamber are co-sponsoring a Water information forum on Wednesday March 14th
at the Rogue River Room of the Stevenson Union at 7:00 P.M.
Meeting adjourned at 6:10
Next meeting dates