December 12, 2012
Ad-Hoc Homelessness Steering Committee
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Ayars, Parker, Saldana, Hopkins-Powell, Sohl, Rohde, Lewis, Morris (Council liaison)
Corriann Matthews, Wendy Eppinger
Agenda Item #1: Call to Order
Rohde called the meeting to order at 4:05 p.m.
Agenda Item #2: Approval of Minutes
Parker/Ayars m/s to approve the minutes, Voice Vote-Motion passed unanimously, one abstention due to absence.
Agenda Item #3: Update on Exclusion Zone from Chief Holderness
Chief Holderness explained that the Police Department only had five months worth of data on the Exclusion Zone. Holderness also stated that he is scheduled to give the Council a report on the Exclusion Zone after six months and that update will be the same information that he is providing to the HSC at this time. Holderness stated that the ordinance seems to be effective. At this point seven individuals met the threshold for exclusion. Of the seven, four did not show up for court and have left town, three got served. When an individual gets served they are required to go to court, they cannot go back to the plaza area until they go to court. Rohde asked if there was any commonality among the offences for which the individuals were arrested. Holderness stated that trespassing was the #1 offense, followed by open container, scattering rubbish, and disorderly conduct. When comparing the same timeframe from last year there have been no changes, save the amount of calls and violations. However there are more officers downtown, many of the calls are officer generated. Chief Holderness stated that starting in the summer there will be a greater police presence downtown. The police dept. will be increasing their presence to six days a week. Chief Holderness stated that he will reevaluate the data in a year and compile a report at that time. Parker asked if any of the people that the police have had issues with on the plaza had mental health issues or are veterans. Chief Holderness stated that the police refer any individuals who fall under either of those categories to the appropriate resources. Chief Holderness pointed out that some individuals are service resistant.
Agenda Item #4: Sub-committee Reports
Winter Shelter report/update
Parker reported that the shelter volunteer training was very successful. Twenty four people attended the training. Parker also created a volunteer sing up in Google doc which allows volunteers to sign up for available shelter nights on their own. The administrators of the list have access to phone numbers and contact information. Currently many of the sites are full for volunteers through April 1st
. The Unitarian Church felt that they would like to participate in the program but don’t feel that their space is appropriate. Currently they have twelve volunteers and are willing to pay $50.00 a week to rent a space. Parker also reported that Councilor Voisin is bringing a change to the emergency cold weather shelter ordinance forward at the December 17th
study session. Voisin will ask the Council to consider raising the temperature threshold from 20 degrees to 33 degrees. This request is in response to the increase in volunteer base to staff emergency cold weather shelters. Parker did a little research on what other Cities are doing, most cited freezing temperatures as the threshold for enacting a cold weather shelter. Springfield Oregon has a threshold of 30 degrees. Parker also pointed out that there is still a need for kitchen volunteers at the cold weather shelter. Many of the shelter participants bring food and it is difficult for the shelter volunteers to heat things up in the kitchen and keep water heated for hot beverages to warm people. If there were volunteers who just want to come in for a couple of hours when the shelter opens to work in the kitchen but not stay the night that would be beneficial. Parker and Hopkins-Powell reported that many businesses have been donating food for the shelters. Parker and Rohde mentioned that people ought to thank them either in person, by sending a letter to the editor, or by patronizing their businesses. Reid mentioned the discussion from the Faith Based Outreach meeting around getting the word out about emergency shelter. Reid reported that she spoke with Dawn Burke from Community Works who is in charge of maintaining the 211 database and helpline resources. Burke stated that if someone could call her when an emergency shelter was enacted that she could post that information to 211 and to helpline. Burke had originally contacted Reid to confirm the information about the weekly shelters. Parker and Hopkins-Powell stated that they would work on a plan for getting the word out about emergency shelters. Parker also mentioned that the shelters need donations of blankets, instant oatmeal, instant coffee, and hot chocolate.
Veteran’s Court sub-committee report/update
Lewis is working on coordinating a trip to Klamath with various parties.
Car Park report/update
The Subcommittee met and brainstormed about locations. The subcommittee spoke with representatives from the Eugene St. Vincent De Paul and found out what is needed. A fenced area with a locking gate commercially zoned with a porta-potty. The shelter would open at 9 PM and close at 7AM. There would be a host. Ayars researched three spots which could accommodate all of the above stated needs and sent letters to two of the property owners. The Recycling depot has a porta-potty and closes at 5PM and opens at 9 AM so it would not have an operating hour conflict. Hopkins-Powell spoke with organizers of the St. Vincent De Paul “Overnight Parking Program” in Eugene. Their program began twelve years ago because the City of Eugene was getting overwhelmed with complaints about homeless people sleeping in their cars. The City felt that it was necessary to do something. The St. Vincent program does a few cars in various parking lots around town. Many businesses request hosting the overnight parking program because they have determined that it decreases crime. St. Vincent’s issues three month vouchers to the participants. The City pays St. Vincent’s 90K to administer the program. That provides a porta-potty and garbage service to each of the sites, and pays for someone to manage the sites. The St. Vincent program coordinator checks with all of the neighbors prior to approving the site, many of the site managers are homeless people; St. Vincent’s has found them to be good site managers and has inadvertently created a jobs program. Chief Holderness stated that there are not a lot of issues with the car campers in Ashland. The issue that necessitates consideration of an overnight parking program would is safety rather than problem behaviors. Parker stated that the HSC does not know how many people would utilize an overnight parking program in Ashland.
Sohl called Cycle Oregon and the BLM and saw a shower trailer for sale for 20K. Corrianne and Sohl both called Wellspring and learned that the showers cost $4.00. Corrianne is checking to see if the Wellspring would be willing to donate some shower vouchers. Sohl also spoke with the YMCA, they have been approached before, and declined to provide shower passes, however an individual could purchase a day pass for $10.00 and use the showers. Soldana reported that she spoke with someone recently from the forest service who was looking for a place to park their mobile shower unit. Parker left a message with the school district about parking at the former Lincoln elementary school. Parker also sent out an e-mail to the person she was in contact with before regarding the mobile shower unit and Soldana will send an e-mail to the forest service person.
*Additional agenda items:
The Porta-Potty was renewed for a year by the Council. However it was pointed out that it will require a planning action and it may be in the flood plain.
OARA update from Soldana: through the continuum of care grant application process there is approximately 30K in bonus money available. RVCOG is applying for the grant money to use for two vouchers for permanent supportive housing units which RVCOG intends to subcontract the administration of the vouchers and case management to OARA. The HTF must approve the project. The bonus money applicants do not compete against the renewal/existing projects. The grant is due to HUD by January 7th
Agenda Item #5: Announcements/Public Comments
Councilor Morris announced that no one applied for the day center grant, many of the HSC members agreed that the HSC would like to help in the process if it moves forward.
Next meeting: January 9, 2013 4:00-6:00 P.M.
Respectfully Submitted by Linda Reid, Housing Program Specialist