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Housing and Human Services Commission (View All)

Housing and Human Services Regular Meeting

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes March 27, 2014
Chair Joshua Boettiger called the meeting to order at 4:30 in the Council Chambers located at 1175 E Main Street, Ashland OR  97520.
Commissioners Present: Council Liaison
Joshua Boettiger Pam Marsh
Heidi Parker  
Connie Saldana SOU Liaison
Michael Gutman Andrew Ennslin, absent
Regina Ayars  
Rich Rohde Staff Present:
Coriann Matthews Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Sue Crader Carolyn Schwendener, Admin Clerk
Gina DuQuenne  
Approval of Minutes
Ayars/Parker m/s to approve the minutes of the February 27, 2014 Housing and Human Services Commission.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes; minutes were approved as presented. 
No one was present to speak                                               
Reid explained that the City of Ashland is an entitlement jurisdiction and receives a direct allocation of Community Development Block Grant Funds (CDBG) from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The City received their final allocation notice today in the amount of $170,078.00. Of that amount $136,063.00 is available for award.  Three applicants are applying for those funds two of whom are applying for public service projects and one for capital improvement. Up to 15% of the total allocation or approximately $25,000 can be awarded to Public Service Projects and the remainder is available for capital improvement projects. 
Maslow Project – Ashland School Based Outreach
Karen Phillips, the Development Manager for Maslow Project and Lacey Renee, Program Manager were present to speak about their application.  Ms. Phillips began by thanking the Commission for their previous support which was instrumental in helping them expand their services in Ashland. Maslow Project is a nonprofit advocacy organization providing goal-oriented, wrap around support services to homeless children and teens as well as their families.  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.
Questions by the Commissioners;
You mentioned your target goal is to serve about 100 children.  Do you have any idea how many other family members you might be serving?
This year they have served eighty-two individuals twenty-four of which were adults and the remaining 70 percent were children.  Roughly 30 percent of the people they work with are adults. 
Do you have plans for the sustainability for the program?  How does your fund raising work and is it in place?
            Our budget mentions $13,000 in private donations. That money is already in place.  $8,000 comes           from the Butler Fund and $5,000 from regular donors.  An additional amount of $4,913 comes from           the Ashland School District (under title X). Individual fund raising is a big part of our budget as well as the     money they receive from CDBG funds which represents a portion of the Case Manager’s salary.
How does the in school program work?
The Ashland Case Manager is stationed at Ashland Senior High School but serves all the schools in the Ashland district.  The Case Manager serves as a “one stop” point of contact for homeless youth who need access to basic needs including hot meals, food boxes, clothing, hygiene supplies, sleeping bags, bus tokens and emergency assistance.
What is the Butler Fund?
              A local family foundation (Don Butler)
You have a new donor established graduate fund. Can you explain that?
This fund was established by an Ashland resident to honor their sister who had served most of her life teaching Inner-City at risk youth. The family wanted to memorialize her passing by making sure that at risk children have access to continuing education by removing some of the barriers to post secondary education.  The family made an initial donation of $5,000 and did a Community match ending up raising a total of $14,000. Students that have graduated or received their GED can apply for assistance with books, transportation to school, laptops, tuition etc, just about anything that might be a barrier to receiving further education. 
The $10,000 that you are asking for is to fund the salary of the Ashland Case Manager.  If you were to not to receive CDBG funds or receive less than you asked for, would the project be able to continue?
It would continue at a proportionally reduced rate and we would work to find ways to supplement             it. Our days of service might be reduced.
St. Vincent DePaul – Home Visitation Program
Rich Hansen, Charlotte Dorsey and Beth Hill were present to represent the fifteen volunteers who make up St. Vincent DePaul’s Ashland Home Visitation Program.  Hansen started out by thanking the Commissioners for the confidence they have placed in their organization by awarding them public service grants over the past several years.  The combination of the City Funds, their volunteers and their own budget monies  have  developed what they consider a proven force to prevent the growth of homelessness in Ashland. In some cases they have been able to move individuals and families without homes into housing.  This was rarely achieved before the CDBG money came along. The 2011/2012 grant of $14,000 enabled St. Vincent DePaul to help nineteen households or forty-two individuals including twenty-four adults and eighteen children. The monies they received helped them place seventeen Ashland residences into housing and keep another eight families in their housing. 
Questions by Commissioners;
When you start working with a family that is homeless do you help them get to the shelter in Medford?
Yes with some exceptions.  The clients must be able to pass a drug test which includes the use of marijuana (even if the use is with a medical marijuana card). Family dogs are not allowed in the shelter. If any clients have illnesses they don’t want to pass it along to others in the shelter so they might be taken to a hotel instead. The shelter in Medford has forty-eight beds and the Ashland clients are not always willing to relocate. Hanson stated that one of the advantages of the program is that housing is just one of the many ways to help they also provide groceries, help with prescriptions, utility payments etc. anything they might need to help supplement them. 
What is the application process to get deposit and rental assistance?
Ms. Dorsey explained that there has to be a readiness for people to want to go into housing.  We count on our volunteers to sit with families and listen to determine if they have a desire for housing.  Sometimes emotional/physiological issues can prevent people from wanting to go inside.  When someone comes to us for help we may offer to use our St. Vincent De Paul’s funds to help with a month’s rent.  The HUD Grant has Federal Government Rules and the rules and regulations for using the funds are somewhat restrictive.  It is however a very generous grant and we can help people with rent up to three months, stated Hansen. Almost everyone that seeks help from them is at the poverty level and need assistance.
Explain your plans for sustainability. 
Hansen explained that they have an advantage over other non profits in that they have a thrift store in Medford that generates about $750,000 dollars each year.  That money is what really funds St. Vincent.  It has proven to be sustainable and has continually maintained the $750,000 yearly even when the economy was bad.
Habitat for Humanity – Capital Improvement Project
Tiffany Schmelzer newly appointed Development Director with Habitat for Humanity was present to answer questions and review their application.  Ms. Schmelzer explained that it’s been very difficult for Habitat to secure land in Ashland for new construction.  This proposal is for low income homeowner repair projects. Often Low income homeowners are without adequate resources for regular home maintenance or necessary repairs. The program consists of two components. A Brush With Kindness (ABWK) is geared for smaller projects and the Critical Home Repair program for larger needs.  The Funding will allow the completion of ten small ABWK projects and two Critical Home Repair projects.
Questions from the Commissioners;
We are very interested and excited about your project knowing that there is a need for accessibility. Do you also do work on manufactured homes?
            Yes.  We have done decks, handicapped ramps, plumbing, electrical, windows, flooring, roof repair,       insulation etc. 
To what extent is the program self sustaining after you get it going?
All overhead costs including staff salaries are completely covered by our restore.  The restore located in Medford is similar to a thrift store. All repayments from mortgages and repair projects are recycled and used for the next homeowner repair projects. 
The repair program is a three year payback could we assume if we funded this program for three years there would then be an investment in the program that would continue to roll on its own?
Yes it would.
Do you have any people who are currently waiting to be part of this program?
No, if we receive the grant money we will then go out into the community to see who needs help.  We currently partner with churches as well as senior service agencies, Lyons Clubs and Rotary Clubs.  These organizations are aware of the program and we will speak with them hopefully to get referrals.
A State Individual Development Account Fund (IDA) for home repairs was mentioned. Could you explain what this is?
This is a program that allows home owners to put money into an account and it is matched three to one for up to a three year period. The money can be used for a down payment or pay for repairs.
What happens if the client can’t make a payment?
Because Habitat owns the loans if something happens that a client cannot pay for the work a lien can be placed on the property which requires that the loan gets paid back after the mortgage.  Habitat has the reputation as being the most lenient bank in the United States because they always work with the home owners. 
If the home owner sells the home before the loan is paid do you receive the money from the proceeds?
Yes.  A (MOU) Memorandum of Understanding agreement is signed before the start of the project.  The client signs a promissory note stating they will pay off the lien that is owed upon the sale of the property.
Reid explained that all three applications are eligible projects that meet goals the City has set out to accomplish. 
Because the City does not have enough social service money to fully fund both organizations staff is recommending doing a 68/32 split.  The following is staff’s recommendation.
  • $18,000 to St. Vincent De Paul-Home Visitation Program
  • $7,500.00 to Maslow Project for Case Management services
  • $41,300 to Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity to offer home rehabilitation and repairs to qualified low income homeowners.
  • $69,200 in unallocated funds to be carried forward to be awarded in the 2015 program year.
    Marsh asked why the City did not come forward with another application again this year for their energy assistance program.   Reid said they have devoted some money to it out of CLG grant fund that was left over and we did not prioritize that activity this year.
    The Commissioners discussed the projects and agreed that the recommendations were appropriate.   The Council will be reviewing the CDBG applications and making a final decision on April 15th at 7:00 pm in Council Chambers.
    Saldana/Gutman m/s to approve the staff recommendation for funding the three grants. Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed unanimously. 
    The Commissioners expressed their gratitude to the applicants for the work that all three organizations are doing and expressed their support. 
    Goldman informed the Commission that the City is in the process of completing a neighborhood plan for the 94 acre north Normal Avenue area.  Although future development of this area is expected to occur in an incremental way, as individual parcels propose annexation for specific housing developments, with an adopted neighborhood plan in place each individual development proposal can better coordinate the provision of streets, pedestrian connections, utilities, storm water management and open space. 
    Goldman gave a power point presentation touching on the affordable housing component.  One of the conditions of annexation is that the applicant has to provide a percentage of affordable housing.  Although the requirement is a sliding scale; approximately one out of four units must be affordable. 
    The commission felt strongly that this neighborhood plan is a major source of future growth in the City in regards to affordable housing.  It was agreed to put further education about this topic back on the April agenda. 
    Brandon will include in his future staff reports that affordable housing is an important component of our City and future development. 
    Council – Marsh reported that a delegation from SOU came to City Council and asked for consideration of the fair housing protection of students. The Council did not discuss this at their meeting but have scheduled it for the Tuesday April 1st meeting.  Marsh said it is likely that the council will refer this issue to this Commission for some guidance. 
    The Council is in the process of goal setting. In the past this was more of an annual exercise but this year is something much more strategic.  The idea is to look out over a half dozen years and look at the issues we are dealing with now and how we expect to unroll those over the next few years reported Marsh.  Once an Initial draft has been put together they will circulate it asking for feedback from all the Commissions and citizens of the Community.
    General Announcements – Marsh announced that the Ashland Food Bank is trying to start an at home delivery program, specifically for seniors. Please be thinking about this and refer people to us. 
    Parker announced that the volunteers have really come through for the homeless shelters. The overnight shelters will be ending the second week in April.  It’s been an amazing effort on lots of people, seeing over twenty people every night.
    Ayars encouraged everyone to come by and visit the new Resource Center on Clover lane.  The goal is have the showers ready for use by April 15th.  Volunteers for the showers are still needed. The shower trailer will be at this years’ Homeless Connect at the Medford Armory. 
    Saldana announced she is on the Life Long Housing Committee and they will be having a Symposium on April 26, 2014 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Scottish Rights Center in Ashland.  
    Quorum Check – Ayars will be absent and Parker will be late.   
    Social service grant recommendation and approval
    Brief overview of Housing incentives and programs
    Normal Ave plan discussion
    Housing Needs Analysis overview.
    Housing and Human Services Commission regular meeting – April 24, 2014, 4:30 pm in the Siskiyou Room of the Community Development Building located at 51 Winburn Way
    ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 6:25 p.m.
    respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

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