Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
 Minutes November 19, 2015
Chair Josh 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
Rich Rohde  
Heidi Parker  SOU Liaison
Sue Crader Megan Mercier
Regina Ayars  
Coriann Matthews Staff Present:
Tom Buechele Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Tom Gunderson  
Gina DuQuenne Carolyn Schwendener, Admin Assistant

Ayars/Rhode m/s to approve the minutes of the October 22, 2015 Housing and Human Services Commission meeting with one correction.  Voice Vote: All ayes, minutes were approved with correction.
Derek Johnson introduced himself.  Mr. Johnson has lived in Ashland for around ten years and is concerned about the housing issues in Ashland.  Mr. Johnson presented a Housing First proposal.  The concept of Mr. Johnsons proposal is based on five critical principals.
  1. Housing First
  2. Decriminalizing homelessness
  3. < >Local Community
  4. Meeting diverse needs (homeless Community is not a single group but a diverse group)
Ten sectors in the Community that Mr. Johnson touched upon were; Veterans, Women, Families, Parents, Crisis, Disability, Seasonal Workers, Mobile Workers, Travelers and Economic Refugees.  Mr. Johnsons concept is looking at the possibility of leasing out houses during the winter months theoretically at a time when rates are lower.  He suggested setting aside $10,000 for each of the above sectors.  The second phase of his proposal would address housing year round.
The Commissioners thanked Mr. Johnson  for his input and invited him to stay for the remainder of the meeting as some of his topics will be addressed on tonight’s agenda. 
Meha Hadell, who is new in our Community, addressed the Commission. Ms. Hadell is a yoga and dance teacher who has a continuing concern for the homeless and would like to see a safe space provided for them. Her concern is for the group of people who are at a place in their life where they need assistance getting back on their feet and are willing to move forward making healthy choices.
Staff Liaison Reid explained that she had recently spoken with a person who expressed an interest in purchasing the Lithia Springs Girls home located at 862 Siskiyou Boulevard and using it in some way for affordable housing.  The unit has eight bedrooms and a Commercial kitchen.  This person was inquiring if there was any interest in the non-profit community for leasing that space and operating it.
The Commissioners discussed the different possibilities for the use of the property. 
John Wieczorek, board member of Options for Homeless Residents in Ashland, introduced himself.  Mr. Wieczorek acknowledged their organization looked at the girls home prior to it coming on the market.  The group is interested in the idea of offering supportive housing at that site though currently are not in a position to purchase the property.  Mr. Wieczorek commented that Options for Homeless Residents does see an opportunity to form a relationship with a private individual maybe entertaining a discussion of leasing to own.  Reid explained the next step is to meet with the interested buyer and discuss the possible proposals.
Commissioner Parker reminded the Commissioners that the Housing and Human Services Commission was formed from the Homeless Steering Committee and the Housing Commission and she did not want them to loose sight of the recommendations that the Homeless Steering Committee had put forth prior to this Commission being formed.  Parker encouraged the Commissioners to examine those recommendations and see if they are still relevant.  Put this on the agenda for the goal setting retreat.
SOU Liaison Mercier reported she has not yet formed a core group of students that can work on the Student Fair Housing Ordinance.  Ms Mercier has had prior discussions with various students who have experienced housing discrimination and are interested in being part of that group.  Ms. Mercier inquired as to why more affordable housing is not being built in Ashland because it appears that student housing seems to be maxed out. The Commissioners explained that the price of land is so high it doesn’t generally pencil out for developers.  Snowberry located on Clay Street was the last affordable multi-family complex built in Ashland.
Reid handed out the original housing survey that had been mailed to landlords and property management companies in order to get feedback. Reid suggested updating the survey and doing a mailing to the new rental registry list.  Reid also suggested doing outreach to the Southern Oregon Renters Association.  She has requested to be put on their next meeting agenda.  Reid has contacted Louise Dix to see if the Fair Housing Council can do Fair Housing testing in the Ashland area.  It was suggested the testing surround age and source of income to determine if those population segments are being discriminated against.
The Commissioners made changes to the survey and Reid will type it up and send it out to the Commissioners for their review. 
Guest speaker Civil Rights advocate Jonathan Ostar from Portland spoke. For the last five years Mr. Ostar has been leading the State wide effort to repeal the prohibition on Inclusionary Zoning.  It is Mr. Ostar’s desire that Ashland would join a number of other cities across the state formally endorsing a repeal of the fifteen year old ban on exclusionary zoning. 
Rohde/Crader m/s that we as a Commission recommend and advise to the City Council that they pass a resolution in support of the lifting of the ban on exclusionary zoning in Oregon.  Voice Vote:  All ayes, motion passed.  Reid will draft a memo to the Council and include the State Bill.
Rohde reported the sub-committee met and reviewed the financial report that was provide by City Finance Director Lee Tuneberg.  Mr. Tuneberg provided the information explaining where the City budget is at and what the money is designated for.  The report is missing the funding from the Food Tax but when it becomes available Mr. Tuneberg will provide it.  Rohde commented that Mr. Tuneberg had a very compelling narrative of how difficult it is to move any of these pieces.  New sources of money are easier to allocate to new activities, it will be difficult to maneuver any money out of the existing designated categories, stated Rohde. 
Commissioner Ayars announced her resignation from the Commission.  She acknowledged some of the accomplishments that the Commission has made during her nine years of service and expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to be part of this Commission.  The Commissioners thanked her for her years of service.
Council Report – Councilor Marsh reported that what the Council is looking for is Community groups and advocacy groups to step forward and try to pick up the many solutions that have been proposed surrounding the Homeless population.  Marsh is personally working on a project similar to one in Palo Alto called Palo Alta Downtown Streets program. People on the street are invited to participate in a volunteer program doing public service projects, meeting with a case worker etc.  In return they receive vouchers for basic needs.  It’s intended to be a transitional program with the goal of working toward permanent housing and employment.  Marsh would like to invite the Palo Alto representative to Ashland to discuss their program. 
It was decided to do the Goal Setting Retreat on Tuesday December 15, 2015 from 5:00 - 8:00 pm in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development & Engineering Department at 51 Winburn Way. Topics for the retreat are; goal setting, homeless issues, social service grant evaluation, rental housing discussion.
Hospice has decided to establish their facility in Medford. 
Parker reported on the volunteer training for the homeless shelter.  About twenty people attended. She stated that the background check for the volunteers has changed, making it much easier.  It’s now computerized.   Could use more volunteers especially for the next two weeks during the Holiday season. 
Reid announced that the Point in Time Homeless count is coming up soon. 
Fair Housing discussion
Rental Housing discussion
Social Service Grant
Quorum Check:
Next Housing Commission Meeting – 4:30-6:30 PM; January 28, 2016 4:30-6:30 in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development & Engineering Department located at 51 Winburn Way.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:25 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

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