Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes April 24, 2014
Chair Joshua Boettiger called the meeting to order at 4:35 in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development and Engineering Offices located at 51 Winburn Way, Ashland OR 97520.
Commissioners Present: Council Liaison
Joshua Boettiger Pam Marsh, absent
Heidi Parker, left a 5:10  
Connie Saldana SOU Liaison
Michael Gutman Andrew Ennslin
Regina Ayars, absent  
Rich Rohde, absent Staff Present:
Coriann Matthews Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Sue Crader Carolyn Schwendener, Admin Clerk
Gina DuQuenne  
Approval of Minutes
Saldana/Parker m/s to approve the minutes of the March 27, 2014 Housing and Human Services Commission.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes; minutes were approved as presented. 
Kathy Kennedy, Landlord and citizen of Ashland was present to listen and participate in the Student Fair Housing Discussion.
Holly Smith introduced herself stating that she is in Pat Acklin’s Planning Issues class at SOU.  She will be participating in a presentation to the Housing and Human Services Commission at a future meeting.
Christy Wright, Fair Housing campaign manager for ASSOU was present.                       
Reid acknowledged that the Council voted to direct the Housing and Human Services Commission to study and develop a recommendation on whether students should be added as a protected class in the City’s Fair Housing ordinance. The Council also directed the Commission to discuss other ways aside from the designation as a protected class that would provide better protection for students.
Ennslin and Wright expressed their appreciation that the Council considered the request of making students a protective class and directed it to this Commission for discussion. 
The Commissioners discussed their different experiences with living next door or renting to SOU students.  Their experiences were everything from respectful and wonderful to rowdy and drunkenness.  The consensus was that it has not always been pleasant to live next door to students. The commissioners suggested looking at innovative ways to diminish some of the problems.  They were interested in learning how other college communities have addressed similar issues.  Is there a certification process to assure landlords of responsible renters?
Christy Wright recently had a discussion with Janay Haas, author of the book entitled “Landlord Tenant rights in Oregon.” She is a criminal justice professor at SOU and has been an attorney for landlord tenant disputes for about twenty years.  “Ms. Haas is very enthusiastic about helping us with this project”, stated Wright.
The Commission encouraged the idea of educating students who may never have been tenants before.  They would support a class that would raise the awareness of what it is to be a good tenant.   Currently ACCESS offers a six week “Ready to Rent” class.  After completing the class the participants get a certificate that can be showed to landlords confirming their intent to be a good tenant.  Another idea is to have a fund designated as a security deposit for landlords that would give some guarantee they would get their money.
The question was proposed “Why do property owners reject students?”
Kathy Kennedy clarified that being a landlord is a business model; it’s an investment on someone’s part. Ms. Kennedy said a landlord wants a good tenant.   To find those tenants a landlord will use criteria such as references, qualified income and good credit history.  Ms Kennedy explained she has had both good experiences and bad experiences with students as well as with working people.  She questions whether a protected class is necessary and suggested doing a survey with Ashland landlords. To her knowledge she has not noticed landlords practicing discrimination against students and would like to see input from landlords to confirm their truly is a discrimination problem.  Wright acknowledged that creating a protected class is not going to stop landlords from screening their applicants and finding good tenants. What is important is that fair standards apply to everyone and that landlords don’t unfairly single out students.
The next step is to talk with ACCESS regarding their Ready to Rent program and class availability.  Wright would like to work with Ms Kennedy on organizing a focus group with students and landlords.  They will put information together and set a date and time. 
Reid gave an overview of the City of Ashland Housing program explaining affordable housing is one component of it.  In general terms affordable housing refers to a household’s ability to find housing within their financial means. The standard measure of affordability as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is when the cost of rent and utilities (gross rent) is less than 30% of household income. When gross rent levels exceed 30% of income it places a significant burden on household finances. 
Here are three main types of Affordable Housing
  1. Workforce Housing
  2. Low-Income Housing
  3. Subsidized Housing
Federal financing is offered through Rural Development, HUD and the National Housing Trust Fund.  State financing can be through Oregon Housing Tax Credits, Low-income Housing tax credits, Vertical Housing Program and Pass through Revenue Bond financing.
The City of Ashland has a Housing Trust Fund which currently has between $140,000 and $170,000 in it.  These funds can be used in a variety of ways.
Reid explained that it is the responsibility of this Commission to come up with a Social Service Grant process recommendation to the Council at their June 3, 2014 meeting.  The Commission would like to develop a strategic plan for the Social Service Grant money.  The following is the grant proposal to the Council including what the Housing and Human Services Commission will do.
  • Work with staff to develop program specific Strategic Plan with measurable goals and objectives to inform the decision making process in awarding social service grant funds.
  • Work with Council to define broad priorities for the use of the funds and measurable goals.
  • Review the previously drafter strategic plan for the use of Social Service Funds to see if there are priorities identified which are still relevant.
  • Engage current and former grantees, social service organizations and the public in reviewing the current process, elicit suggestions on potential changes to the process and to gain feedback on potential goals
  • Utilize the social service inventory and gaps analysis and other pertinent demographic reports to inform goals and objectives
  • Draft a short strategic plan to be reviewed periodically and revised as needed.
  • Provide a recommendation regarding the exiting process of granting Social Service Grant funds.
    The Social Service Grant money comes from the General Fund.  The Commission discussed what the most efficient use of funds would be and if the past use of funds address the unmet needs. Reid will type up a bullet point addressing this concern.  At the next meeting Commissioner’s can vote on approval of the proposal.
    The Commission works under the direction of the Council but would also like the Council to further the goals they are interested in working on. They agreed that the end of August would be a good time for the goal setting meeting.  Put on next month’s agenda to finalize the date and time.
    Reid developed a Final Action Plan for the use of CDBG funds for the Program year 2014.  The Action Plan describes what the City is doing with the grant money and if it meets the goals in the Five Year plan. Once it’s approved Reid will send it to HUD for their approval and then the City receives the grant agreement and funding.
    The public hearing was open for comment.  No one was present to speak.
    Saldana/Gutman m/s to approve the Final Action Plan for the one year use of the CDBG funds.  Voice Vote; All Ayes, motion passed.
    Staff - Reid reported that the public hearing on the Normal Avenue plan is scheduled to go to the Council for first reading on May 6th and the second reading is scheduled for May 20th
    Quorum Check – Reid will be at a HUD training in Portland and will not be able to attend.  Brandon Goldman will be the staff liaison for the meeting.
    Agenda items - Presentation by city recorder and city attorney - rules that govern commissions and committees
    Brandon will talk about the normal plan in relations to zone change, annexation and how it works with the city’s affordable housing.
    Housing and Human Services Commission regular meeting – May 22, 2014, 4:30 pm in the Siskiyou Room of the Community Development Building located at 51 Winburn Way
    ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 6:02 p.m.
    respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

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