ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
JANUARY 23, 2002
CALL TO ORDER- Chair Larry Medinger called the meeting to order at 4:10 p.m.. Other Commissioners present were Joan Legg, Andy Dungan, Richard Seidman, Jan Vaughn, Diana Goodwin-Shavey, Aaron Benjamin and Nancy Richardson. Cate Hartzell was absent. Staff present were Bill Molnar and Sue Yates.
PUBLIC FORUM- No one came forth to speak.
ELECTION OF NEW CHAIR- Medinger is stepping down as Chair due to other obligations. He will remain on the Commission. Vaughn will continue as Vice Chair. Shavey nominated Richardson for Chair. Legg seconded the nomination and everyone voted favorably. Richardson stepped in as Chair.
Shavey asked that we recognize Larry Medinger for the many years he has dedicated his service to the Housing Commission. She asked Staff to provide a certificate.
SUBCOMMITTE ACTIVITY STATUS- Medinger will not be serving on subcommittees. He will volunteer when he can.
Vaughn will head the Land Use subcommittee. Dungan will be serving on Education and Outreach. He is assisting Legg on the Funding subcommittee.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR MATCHING FUND BY LOCAL BANKS- Legg said she talked with the bank people. They are ready to talk to us regarding matching money. She thinks we really need staff ready to write grants. No one is going to fund us if we donít have staff. Richardson said non-profits have staff and we could partner with them because we could be waiting a long time for staff.
JOHN FIELDS, Chair of the Building Committee for Habitat for Humanity, said he has been organizing the labor for Habitat. Land acquisition has been the hardest part for Habitat. Typically, they get a lot of matching grants but since 9-11, much of the regular funding mechanisms and grants have been reduced or eliminated. He is here because many different groups are competing for money and he is trying to work together with various groups.
Shavey said the only funding we would do is either through CDBG or funding the Housing Commission to seek staffing for our work. It was not her understanding we would be garnering funds for housing so we would not be in competition with Habitat.
Richardson finds it clear that we can approach entities that could fund and work to be the liaison to the partnership. We really havenít done this yet as a Commission.
Legg understood we have some money for staff but it is limited. She is seeing if the banks can match that so we can have a continuing staff that will be the stability of the whole affordable housing issue. We, as volunteers, canít do anything serious if we just have contract people.
Seidman is concerned that the Action Plan will be a great plan, but it will just stop there until there is money to start implementing it. Maybe the Funding Committee can get funds in place now so that once Carlus Harris comes with his final report, we can start implementing it. The funding may last a year, and in that year there may be a sustainable way to get funding for that position.
Vaughn wondered if this would fall under the purview of the Community Reinvestment Act for banks. Legg thought so.
Molnar thinks everyone is talking about a lot of different things. He understands $30,000 was allocated to do the housing study. Not all of that, based on the contracts, was used. The Action Plan being adopted by the Council will identify land use strategies, changes to the ordinance, etc. and non-land use strategies. In anticipation of keeping implementation of the Action Plan going, they should be looking at additional funding sources to maintain a contract person or prepare to ask the Council if they would allocate the leftover money for a consultant to assist in implementation. CDBG funding is different. Twenty percent of that entitlement goes toward the salary of a planner on staff to administer and report the CDBG funds.
Shavey said we have $30,000 from the city with $24,000 committed to the grant. The Action Plan does not include grant writing. Could we amend the consultantís role to include some grant writing for the purpose of staffing funding for the upcoming year? Legg volunteered to do part of work to obtain the matching funding for the whole $30,000. Dungan offered to help her. She would write a grant for another $30,000 and work with Carlus Harris.
Seidman is disappointed to hear grant writing was not part of the Action Plan. Have we identified how much money we want to generate from grants? Maybe it will be contingent on what the Needs Assessment and Strategic Plan will come up with.
Carlus Harris said he believes it is within the Cityís power to go after funds such as Community Reinvestment funds that would make provisions of affordable housing more readily available. He thinks the time has come for the city to get in the game and start doing the kinds of things that municipalities all over the United States are doing to support the non-profits and other organizations in their communities to bring affordable housing in. Medinger said the closing date for Community Reinvestment applications are due March 14th. Joan, Andy and Larry will meet with Harris.
Dungan wondered if the city would house a staff person. Molnar said heíd have to look into this. He is wondering what the person would do until we have direction from the Action Plan. Shavey suggested building overhead into the grant money.
Return to Subcommittee Reports
EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Seidman said they are working on the website. She sent an e-mail around so the Commissioners could see what is being proposed and what is needed. Ann Seltzer is starting to figure out links. If there is any feedback, contact Seidman. The committee does not want the website to be overwhelming. Molnar said this will all be contained within the current Cityís website.
Seidman said the next meeting of the subcommittee will be on February 13th at 10:00 a.m. at Campus Grounds.
NEEDS ASSESSMENT- Molnar reported they had the kick-off on December 20, 2001 with the consultant, ECONorthwest and the advisory team from the Housing Commission. Discussion focused on what we want the document to look like. This will be more than a typical planning document. It will be more "user friendly". Anyone reading it will be able to get a snapshot of housing trends. It will be supported by appendices at the end of the document.
Molnar said currently, they plan to have a draft report by the second week in February of some initial conclusions from the data we are sending them. City staff has taken on a little more of the data collection to give the consultants more time to analyze it and write the report.
Molnar said the committee posed a question for the consultants. How do you create support for affordable housing for those who just feel indifferent to it? There was some discussion about how affordable housing links up with other municipal services, education, transportation, economic development, etc. It ties in with many other things in the Comprehensive Plan.
Seidman is concerned that some important information wonít be generated such as quantifying housing to income. Molnar said there is a revised outline on Page 7. The consultants have looked at the model and decided it might not be the best use of their time. They will be doing a sampling.
Seidman said with regard to rentals, it seems crucial to get an idea of options people have for rentals. Is it adequate to contact property management companies? What about checking classified ads for individual owners renting property? What is the percentage?
Molnar asked anyone having suggestions, to e-mail them to him and he would pass them along to the consultant.
Molnar said there has been some question about the model. Is it more about housing need or housing demand? Dungan has looked at it and agreed. They are using two variables. He said if it is used, the data for Ashland could be radically skewed.
Seidman asked what happens between the draft and final report? Molnar thought the consultants would have a verbal presentation, however, he is not certain. Richardson asked Molnar to check this out. Seidman thought the presentation could be a good opportunity to get some press. Molnar said the Housing Commission and Council could meet jointly for the presentation. Shavey wondered about the possibility of airing the meeting over cable access.
PROPOSED MODIFICATIONS TO CDBG PROGRAM UPDATE- There will be a meeting with different housing entities around the valley on Monday at 3:00 p.m. at the Clubhouse.
Molnar said staff went to the Council on January 15th. They talked about putting out a discussion about how we currently do our CDBG process. For the amount of money we get, we do quite a few projects. The planners get bogged down in the administration. HUD has even suggested we do fewer projects. A proposal was put out that we look at doing only two projects every three years. It would be a three year grant cycle rather than a one year grant cycle. Priorities should be given to projects that meet the top priorities in the cityís Consolidated Plan. We have tried to encourage that over the years but end up getting a myriad of projects. The main priority involves building affordable housing. The proposal considers pulling the Budget Committee out of the process. The Housing Commission would do the initial presentation and review.The Housing Commission would then forward a recommendation to the City Council. A problem with the three year funding cycle for one project creates some difficulties, such as debt service. This can be further discussed at Mondayís meeting.
Shavey has a CDBG program she got off the web. She suggested the Commissioners try to inform themselves about what you can use CDBG funds for and it is summarized in this reading.
OTHER- Shavey is speaking to the United Methodist Men soon. She will be speaking about Housing in Ashland -- Who Gets to Live Here Now. All of the Commissioners are invited to attend.
NEXT MONTHíS AGENDA
ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned at 5:45 p.m.