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Housing Commission (View All)

Housing Commission Regular Meeting

Minutes
Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
  MINUTES
February 27, 2013
 
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Regina Ayars called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development and Engineering Building located at 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR  97520.
 
 
Commissioners Present: Council Liaison
Regina Ayars Carol Voisin
Brett Ainsworth  
Barb Barasa SOU Liaison
Evan Lasley Andrew Ensslin
Michael Gutman  
Ben Scott Staff Present:
Commissioners Absent: Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
  Carolyn Schwendener
   
 
 
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Gutman/Lasley m/s to approve the minutes of the January 23, 2013 regular Housing Commission meeting. Voice Vote:  All Ayes; minutes were approved as presented. 
 
PUBLIC FORUM
No one spoke
 
CDBG PRESENTATIONS
Maslow Project – Mary Ferrell founder and Executive Director of the Maslow Project spoke.  Ferrell explained that the Maslow Project is a nonprofit advocacy agency whose mission is to offer every homeless child and youth the probability of success and the opportunity for a better life. They do this by providing resources for basic needs, removing barriers to education and employment and fostering self-sufficiency in a collaborative and empowering environment. Homelessness is defined as “any student who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night residence.”  This includes couch surfing, doubled-up, living in weekly rate motels, shelters, parks, streets and campgrounds or in substandard blight conditions.  Ferrell pointed out their proposed target is 100 students.
 
The Maslow Project is located inside the Ashland Senior High School. The Ashland case manager works approximately three days a week providing services to eligible youth and families. Ferrell acknowledged that the Maslow Project is requesting $10,000 from the CDBG funds to cover a portion of the Case Manager’s salary.  All other program costs are covered by other funding sources.  These CDBG funds are critical to the payroll expenses of this project.  A reduction in hours of the Case Manager would result in decreased access for students to this service. 
 
The following are questions from the Commissioners:
 
How long have you been in existence?
We started over 14 years ago but became non-profit just four years back. We chose to become non-profit in order to expand and be a county wide service.
 
How do you work with other non-profits in the Community?
We partner with as many agencies as possible.  Our case manager spends time with the Community Works street outreach worker conducting outreach programs. We also give referrals to each other when appropriate.
 
Are there any duplicates regarding services offered in our Community?
No.  We offer a full range of services including coordinating housing for children. 
 
How do you access the children who are not in High School?
Our case manager goes to all the schools in the district as well as Headstart.  There is a built in network in place.
 
You mentioned having $8,700 in donations from the Community.  How many make up that number? 
Approximately seven businesses and forty-five to fifty individuals
 
Ashland Emergency Food Bank – Treasurer and Board Member Ward Wilson along with Grant writer Walt Slater gave a presentation. For over forty years the AEFB has been distributing food to the Communities of Ashland and Talent.  Each month they provide an average of 475-525 households (representing 1,300 children and adults) with a three to five-day supply of essential food items.  They anticipate that 1,500 unique households (representing 3,750 individuals) will seek assistance from them in 2013.
 
AEFB has one part time employee and approximately ninety regular volunteers. They are currently housed at 560 Clover Lane, the old Kentucky Fried Chicken/A & W Restaurant.  In August of 2011 they were able to negotiate a two year lease at that property with the option to purchase it when the lease is up in the amount of $475,000.
 
AEFB is asking for $87,000 in CDBG funds to help purchase the property.  Currently they have $91,225 in secured monies, $87,646 CDBG awarded funds from 2012 and $296,129 in tentative monies.
 
Grant writer, Slater made two points regarding the AEFB purchase.  As a basic service their application will score higher and is identified as a priory project for funding from various foundations and funding sources.  Slater stated that if awarded the additional CDBG funds it will help bring leverage with the other private contributors. 
 
The following are questions from the Commissioners:
 
The deadline for the purchase of the building is August 31, 2013.  What will happen if you don’t have the money at that time?
AEFB has no obligation to purchase the property.  It would be our hope that the Bank would give us more time if we are close to the amount needed.  The bank has demonstrated their desire to help us make the purchase.
 
How confident do you feel in the next six months that you can raise over fifty percent of your target? 
We are very confident! It took us a year to really get started on our fundraising and we have done quite well in a short amount of time.  Currently no one we have asked has turned us down.  We have received a donation from a prominent community member who has also asked to join our fundraising campaign.
 
Why did it take so long to get the campaign going? 
None of the people on the board have any experience in fund raising. We had to educate ourselves. We spoke with fund raising professionals in the valley including the YMCA Director.  We had to find volunteers to do the layout and graphics. 
 
Wilson invited the Commissioners to their March 10th open house and Pie Social at the food bank located at 560 Clover Lane.
 
St. Vincent de Paul – Rich Hansen, Foundation Liaison and Chici Cutting, President represented St. Vincent de Paul.  The Rogue Valley District Council of St. Vincent de Paul is dedicated to providing compassionate support and care to the poor and needy in Jackson County, regardless of race, religion, creed, sex, sexual preference or ethnic origin.  Twelve volunteers respond to calls for help on the Ashland phone line. 
 
In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012 the Ashland/Talent Home Visit Conference spent $124,510 helping the needy.  In total they helped 184 families with rent expenses and 304 families with utility bills.  Hansen acknowledged that St. Vincent de Paul is requesting $24,000 in CDBG funds with this application.  None of the money received goes to salaries or benefits; it all goes to those they serve.  The only overhead expense is $16.38 for a voice mail answering machine. 
 
The following are questions from the Commissioners:
 
What percentage go your budget goes to help pay people’s utility bills?
Approximately 45% of the budget is designated for utility help about $55,000.  $59,000 is used for rent. All CDBG funds received are used for rent. 
 
Living Opportunities – Jim Gochenour, Development Director spoke.  Gochenour began by thanking the Commissioners for their support with last year’s Grant money.  Thanks to the City of Ashland CDBG funds in 2012 Living Opportunities was able to complete an interior capital improvement project at their building located at 747 Normal Ave. in Ashland. They are requesting $24,000 from the City’s CDBG fund in order to continue with the renovation of the building. The money will go toward adding siding and insulation, replacing windows, doors, update light fixtures, fencing and updates to the porch.  The goal is to increase the energy efficiency of the building. Living Opportunities will provide the remaining needed $17,300 and will cover any unanticipated costs associated with the project.  The life expectancy of the building is another thirty years.
 
Their mission statement is “For people with developmental disabilities to work for the same employers, live in the same neighborhoods, and have the same experiences everyone aspires to in our community.” Gochenour expressed his pride in several awards that Living Opportunities have received; Medford Chamber of Commerce outstanding non-profit award along with three years in a row “the best non-profit to work for to mention a couple.
 
City of Ashland – Brandon Goldman, City Senior Planner, presented the application.  Goldman pointed out that in 2009 the City Council awarded the City of Ashland CDBG funds for their Affordable Housing Weatherization and Energy Efficiency project.  This project was very successful assisting twenty households benefiting thirty Ashland residents and leveraging over $35,000 in matching funds from various sources.  The City is asking to use $25,000 in CDBG funds to complete energy efficiency improvements on units occupied by qualifying low-income families.  With an approximate grant amount of $2,500 per dwelling the City could assist approximately ten households with energy efficiency upgrades or other necessary repairs to reduce energy costs. 
 
The following are questions from the Commissioners:
 
Does the City have another funding source that this could come from? 
Goldman suggested asking that question to someone in conservation or administration.
 
What happens if a renter requests help with weatherization?
The program is designed for property owners.  The program targets owner occupied units.
 
Who performs the work? 
The home owner would contract with providers.  They would then submit to the city an invoice for the services provided. 
 
In 2009 for the CDBG Weatherization program.  Where did the matching funds come from? 
The 2009 program leveraged funds from; Access’ weatherization program, the City’s Conservation program loans and grants, from Rural Development 502 loan and grant programs, funds from City of Ashland revolving loan rehabilitation program, and homeowners.
 
STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS
Reid expressed the City’s appreciation to all the organizations for applying for these funds as they are all necessary services to our community.  Reid stated it is staff’s responsibility to check eligibility and determine whether the applicants meet Federal CDBG regulations and address the priorities identified with the City of Ashland 2010-2015 Consolidated Plan. The total City of Ashland allocation of CDBG funds for the 2013 program year is expected to be approximately $164,556 which includes the administrative portion of 20%.  CDBG regulations states that not more than 15% can be awarded to Public Service activities and there is no limit on the percentage of funds that can be awarded to capital improvement projects.  Reid reminded the Commissioners that City is still uncertain about the exact allocation from the Federal Government and reserves the ability to fund less should they receive less.
 
HOUSING COMMISSION DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATION
Gutman/Barasa m/s that we accept the staff recommendations, (even though we would like to see Living Opportunities funded) for the allocation of the CDBG money.
 
The Commissioners discussed the motion.  Though the Commissioners believed that the recommendation was fair and applicable they were disappointed to see no money awarded to Living Opportunities. Those Commissioners that visited the site at 747 Normal were amazed with the interior work that was done. They called attention to the self worth that the people who work and spend their free time in that building must experience.  Their self esteem will be greatly increased.
 
Ayars/Lasley m/s an amendment to the current motion to change the allocation recommendation from staff for social services to stay the same; but to reduce the allocation to AEFB, to award Living Opportunities for the full amount and the remaining balance to be allocated to the ACFB, and not fund the City application.
 
The Commissioners discussed the amendment.  They inquired about allocating the money to four different projects rather than three. This has previously been discussed in the past and Reid explained the difficulty involved in doing that.  After a discussion and acknowledging that Living Opportunities is a valuable resource in our Community it was determined that the Energy Efficiency program is a higher priority. 
 
Ayars withdrew her amendment followed by Lasley withdrawing his second.  The Commissioners voted on the original motion.  Voice Vote; motion passed unanimously 
 
Reid announced that the CDBG award public hearing will be at the April 2, 2013 Council meeting.
 
FAIR HOUSING SURVEY FOR STUDENTS
Lasley would like some input from the Commissioners as to what they would like included in the survey.  The Commissioners will submit their ideas to Reid and she will consolidate them and send them to Lasley. Reid reminded the Commissioners not to have an email meeting but to just send the suggestions to her without a discussion.  Reid will give the update to Lasley.
 
Ainsworth announced to the Commission that this was his last meeting.  He has resigned due to his need to focus on other priorities in his life.  The commissioners thanked Ainsworth and expressed their appreciation for his volunteerism and contribution to the Commission.
 
MARCH 27, 2013 MEETING AGENDA ITEMS
Student Fair Housing Survey Review
 
UPCOMING EVENTS AND MEETINGS
Next Housing Commission Regular Meeting
4:00-5:45 PM; March 27, 2013
 
ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 5:45.m.
 
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

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