Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Commission (View All)

Housing and Human Services Regular Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, February 26, 2015


Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes February 26, 2015
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Joshua Boettiger called the meeting to order at 4:30 pm 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 (left at 6:00pm)
Heidi Parker  (arrived at 4:40)  
Regina Ayars SOU Liaison
Sue Crader Vacant
Rich Rohde  
Coriann Matthews Staff Present:
Gina DuQuenne Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
  Leslie Gore, Housing Program Assistant
Commissioners Absent:  
Connie Saldana   
   


 
 
Approval of Minutes
 
Sue Crader noted a correction to the January 22, 2015 minutes. Crader’s organization is applying for CDBG grant and not Social Services grant as stated. 
 
DuQuenne/Rohde m/s to approve the minutes of the January 22, 2015 Housing and Human Services Commission meeting with the above correction. Voice Vote: All Ayes; minutes were approved as presented.
 
Public Forum
No one was present to speak.
 
Rental Registry Update
Leslie Gore, Housing Program Assistant, presented the Rental Registry Draft. This draft has been approved by Bill Molnar and is now being reviewed by Bryn Morrison in Utility Billing.  The next step is a meeting (not yet scheduled) to determine the process for the collected data.  The intended date of implementation is the new fiscal year on July 1st 2015.
 
Counselors remarked the format was not designed for multiple addresses.  Gore agreed to update the form to reflect the comments.
 
State of the City Review
Regina Ayars brought Mayor Stromberg’s recent State of the City address to the attention of the committee.  She noted that many of the Mayor’s proposals would impact housing and other interests of the HHSC.  Ayars also stated her understanding that the Mayor’s ideas would have to be brought to the full council before any action was taken. 
 
Council Liaison Pam Marsh commented that pieces of the Mayor’s concepts are currently being pursued, such as the development of Normal. She stated that the “infill piece” would probably have that greatest impact on issues concerning affordable housing.  Marsh said that the Planning Commission has been charged with studying the definition of infill.  Marsh posed the possibility that the HHCS be involved or “stay current” with the Infill Study.  Marsh agreed to keep the commission updated.
 
There was a general discussion about the effect of infill on affordable and workforce housing. Reid explained “infill” was a long standing policy of Ashland City Planning.  She told the commission that infill has been linked to providing affordable housing, including the Vertical Housing Tax Credit.  The tax credit is a State of Oregon program to incentivize the building of affordable units over commercial. 
 
There was general discussion about vertical housing options, guidelines, if the incentives are enough to attract developers. 
 
Rohde asked for the current definition of “affordable” (in reference to the Housing Program) be included in the commission’s next packet.
 
For reference Ayars sited the article the Mayor wrote (http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=16654).
 
Liaison Reports
 
Council –
Marsh reported that the vacation rental issue is coming to the Council on March 17.  Referred to as the “Airbnb” Ordinance it allows rental, in R1 zones, of 1 or 2 bedrooms to a single party in a single car without use of a kitchen or food preparation.
 
Marsh said that the Budget process has begun. She related that the Budget committee discussed the fact that the Human Service Grants awards will be managed by the HHSC and expressed the hope that the HHSC will do a better job than the budget sub-committee has in the past. She also recognized that there will be some big challenges with this year’s allocations.  The overall amount will be determined shortly.
 
Marsh noted the Mayor would like to build 175 thousand dollars a year into the budget to maintain the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project.  This project will be a very high priority.  Marsh said the budget process will require discipline to stick to the goals and priorities established in the strategic planning process.
 
Ayars inquired about the TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax).  Marsh briefly outlined an approved resolution to allocate all the TOT funds, not earmarked for tourism, to the general fund.  The TOT is looking at a 15 to 20% increase and this change will eliminate automatic line item increases and require everybody to “make a case for the funds”.
 
Ayers inquired how you “make a case”, for example, in regards to funding the Housing Trust Fund (HTF).  “Who makes the case and who do they make it to”
 
Marsh explained the City departments Fire, Police, Planning will submit “add packages” after an internal process then those requests go to the budget committee.  Councilors can advocate for their priorities and the budget committee will have a public hearing process.  The HTF would be considered an “add on” as a new expenditure.  Marsh expressed the opinion that the problem with funding the HTF, in this budget cycle, is that the structure of the program is not clearly articulated. 
 
Ayars stated she thought the process was a RFP, which Reid confirmed. 
 
Marsh announced that the HTF was on the budget committees’ agenda for May 18th study session.  
 
Rohde’s was interested in getting a better general understanding of Housing Trust Funds.  Reid said Michael Anderson of The Center for Community Change may be able to advise us.  Boettiger proposed a sub-committee be formed so the committee could “do its homework” before the May 18th study session.
 
Commissioners Matthews/Ayars m/s to create a HFT sub-committee. Voice Vote: All AYES.  Motion passed unanimously.
 
Rohde volunteered to chair the sub-committee.  Rohde committed to coordinate a meeting to research HTF information.  The HTF sub-committee report would be put on the May agenda, after the anticipated charge of the Budget Committee.  Additional commissioners could join the HTF sub-committee at that time. 
 
Rohde will let Reid know the meeting time and Reid will reach out to Michael Anderson to request his support.
 
Consolidated Plan Overview
 
Reid presented a power point overview about the Consolidated Plan which included the following information:
  • The status of the current Consolidated Plan
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirement that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds address one (or more) of the national objectives.
    • Benefit to low and moderate income persons
    • Prevent or eliminate slums and blight
    • Alleviate emergency conditions
  • Ashland’s Grant awards target benefits for people with low or moderate income (80% of Area Medium Income.)
  • The 2010-2015 Consolidated Plan’s spending priorities were:
    • Workforce and affordable housing
    • Support for Homeless, At-Risk and Special Needs Populations
    • Economic and Community Development for extremely low, low and moderate-income residents.
  • The Grant applications will be reviewed in light of these priorities.
  • The Consolidated Plan currently being completed will be establishing the goals for the 5 years going forward.
  • ECONorthwest has been contracted to complete the market analysis portion of the Consolidated Plan, the rest of the document is being compiled in house.
  • The 2015-2019 spending priorities thus far are shaping up to be very similar to those in previous plans.
  • Agency/community survey process identifies affordable housing and need for homeless services as top priorities.
  • Supporting this conclusion is the fact that the affordable housing communities in Ashland are reporting a one to two year waiting list.
  • Additional issues, which were mentioned in outreach activities, were transportation, community gardens, sidewalk improvements and job skills training.
  • There is a Survey Monkey Questionnaire that is still available online.
  • The Next Steps:
    • Getting the Market Analysis returned from ECONorthwest
    • Completing the Needs Analysis
    • Finalizing priority needs
    • Quantifying what needs to be done with the limited amount of money.
 
  • The draft will be submitted to the Commission at the next meeting for review and approval.
  • Then the draft will be submitted to Council on April for (hopefully) adoption.
  • Final adopted Plan to HUD for review and approval in May.
 
Reid broke down the current CDBG grant award
 
  • Final grant allocation is $165,550.00
  • $ 33,000 is administrative expense
  • 15% of the grant may be used for social service, of which there are two applicants; St Vincent DePaul and Maslow Project
  • 100% may be used for capital funding.
  • There are three applicants for capital funding projects: Options for Homes Residence of Ashland, Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity and Ashland Supportive Housing.
  • Additionally there are some “carrier over” funds bringing the total to $ 201,718 to award.
 
There was discussion which resulted in rescheduling the commission meeting and public hearing for the review of the CDBG grant allocations due to a lack of quorum for the regularly scheduled meeting. The meeting has been changed from March 22 2015 to April 2, 2015.  Reid said that she would notify the grantees and submit the change to the paper.
 
Student Fair Housing Debrief
 
Kristy Wright an SOU student has been working on the Fair Housing Campaign since 2013 however her personal commitments are requiring her to pass the activities to another.  Wright introduced Megan Mercier (mercierm@sou.edu) as being an interested in the position of SOU Liaisons to the commission.
  
Wright debriefed the current status of the Fair Housing Campaign.
  • A survey of 200 SOU students said 2/3 of students had been denied housing and 90% supported regulations designating students be named as a protected class.
  • The campaign has stalled due to student turnover. A problem which is intrinsic to a transient student population.
  • In spring 2014 a community forum was held which was very informative.
  • Wright has run into difficulty getting property managers of other cities to reply to her.
  • Ms Blackman recommended tenant classes for students.
  • The survey that Andrew was not completed.
  • The current SOU student government is not interested in this issue, Wright suggests there may be an alternative student organization to support this effort.
  • Identify other deliverables.
 
There was general support for a training class and discussion about options such as Access’ Ready to Rent, Commuter Resource Center, Ashland Community Resource Center, Fair Housing Council and tie-ins to Fair Housing Regulation.  
 
Wright expressed frustration with her efforts collecting information from other municipalities and asked for the commission to support these efforts.   
 
Janay Hass, SOU Criminology professor, landlord and expert in Landlord Tenant Law, advocated for a tenant training and certification for student, spoke on the issue.  She described the challenges students have entering the rental marketing, budgeting, and general communication.  She also pointed out the need for landlord education. 
 
Wright summarized the student frustration at the lack of progress on this issue and made the request that a working group be formed.  Chair Boettiger expressed support for continuing efforts on this issue.  Reid offered to help to facilitate the process and suggested that the committee revisit the Council’s request.    
 
Hass offered to create a curriculum.  There was additional discussion about the potential roll of Access, and the Dazzle program.   There is a fund that guaranteed again property damages that legitimized the program and provide an incentive to Landlords rent to tenants with the certificate.  
 
Reid suggested the topic be added to the May agenda: reviewing the councils.
 
Boettiger recommended that some of the ground work be followed up on before May.  These items to include:
  • Talking to Connie Saldana about Ready to Rent Curriculum.
  • Reach out to the Commuter Resource Center.
  • Explore basis of operations at SOU.
  • Reaching possible partners:
    • Mediation Work
    • Access
       
Gina DuQuenne volunteered to explore some possible options before the May meeting.
 
Mercier mentioned that she will be leaving to study abroad.  She noted that she has talked to the Housing and Campus Life Senator about taking the possible of stepping in temporarily.  Wright committed to attending to the May meeting. 
 
Rohde remarked that this program could be tied it to the landlord outreach and Fair Housing training.  Reid mentioned that the City was looking to do Fair Housing training in the next couple of months.  Hass offered to facilitate a program.
 
 
Liaison Reports (continued)
 
Staff Announcements-
The city renewed its contract with the Fair Housing Council for Training for this commission and to offer landlord/tenant training.  
 
General Announcements-
No
 
 
Adjournment
 
The meeting was adjourned at 6:25 p.m.  Next Housing and Human Services Commission is a HTF sub-committee meeting on March 26, 2015, in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development and Engineering Offices located at 51 Winburn Way, Ashland OR 97520.  The next regular meeting is April 2 at the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.



Respectfully submitted by Leslie Gore
 

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