Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes February 23, 2017
Chair 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
Sue Crader Dennis Slattery
Rich Rohde  
Joshua Boettiger SOU Liaison
Tom Gunderson Megan Mercier, absent
Sharon Harris  
Michelle Linley Staff Present:
Heidi Parker Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Commissioners Absent: Carolyn Schwendener, Clerk
Gina DuQuenne  
Rohde/Parker m/s to approve the minutes of the January 26, 2017 Housing and Human Services Commission regular meeting. Voice Vote: All Ayes, minutes were approved as presented.
Marianne Baker introduced herself.  Ms. Baker has lived in the Ashland area for the past five years and has worked in housing most all of her life. She currently is employed with the State of Oregon in a Subsidized Housing Program for people living with HIV.  Ms. Baker shared some of her ideas regarding the City shelter system.  Her ideas included;
  • Patient Navigator program-connecting the guests with a SOU student to help build relationships.
  • Finding a series of trailers or recreational vehicles to be used for temporary housing in the winter months
  • One percent program, offering a tax credit to property owners who are willing to reserve 1% of their vacant units to ACRC or to Ashland Shelter coordinators.
  • Write a letter campaign – Shelter volunteers write letters of recommendations for those trying to get into housing.
    Ms. Baker invited the Commissioners or anyone they know who would like to drop in and visit at the shelter.  Bring your needle and thread, a tea pot and join them for dinner, stated Ms. Baker.  See what the shelter is all about.
    The Commission acknowledged their gratefulness for the ideas she brought forward and will take them to heart.
    City of Ashland Senior Planner, Brandon Goldman presented the most current draft of the Cottage Housing Ordinance, reminding the Commissioners this is a work in progress.  This draft will be going to the Planning Commission Study Session on February 28, 2017.  At last month’s meeting the Commissioners expressed their concerns regarding the City providing density bonuses for the provision of recreational facilities? Mr. Goldman explained that such a credit would not apply to cottage housing.  Density bonuses will only be provided for affordable housing and conservation. 
    Another concern shared by this Commission was over the setback requirements and clustering of housing.  Mr. Goldman stated that a change in the ordinance was made addressing this by not requiring open space to be one contiguous area but multiple open spaces if they can meet the dimensional requirements.  This might provide more flexibility of where the housing units can be located.  Another suggestion is changing the setbacks from ten feet between buildings to six feet.
    At the Study Session on February 28, 2017 the Planning Commissioners will review the ordinance and make recommendations.  Staff will then put together a formal ordinance and schedule public hearings.  Prior to the public hearings the ordinance will come back to this Commission for further recommendations.  Ultimately it will then go to the City Council for adoption.
    Council Liaison Slattery asked, Is there a pathway we can create in order to bring the construction costs down to make the cottages more affordable or below market rate?  Does the city have barriers or regulatory items making it difficult?  Goldman remarked that land costs and construction costs are out of our control but what the city has done is double the density on the lots in order to remove barriers.  It is possible to increase the number of units by decreasing the amount of open space.  Goldman reminded the Commissioners the goal is to create a project that is compatible with Single Family Housing zones.  Reid reminded them that an applicant can apply through the CDBG program for monies to help pay for some of the infrastructure.  Applicants can also utilize the SDC deferral program.
    Rohde asked to add an item to the agenda.  He would like to discuss the housing trust fund update and suggested doing it at the same time as the Strategic goals priority review.
    At the last meeting Boettiger raised concerns surrounding the incidences of racism or anti-Semitism we have recently experienced in our community. As we see these things happening can we put more effort into doing something about it, stated Boettiger?  Another comment was made that we are building a segregated Community based on income. 
    The Commissioners proposed the questions “How do we create bystander awareness?” How do we take more ownership as a Community around the issues of hate speech and vandalism?  “How can we train our Community to say this is not alright?  How do we implement it? Slattery commented how important it is to be careful because this can be a constitutional issue. 
    Reid pointed out that we have the funding to bring the Fair Housing Council of Oregon to do some training in our area.  We could ask for a training targeted toward social justice.  Reid will check with Louise Dix, from the Fair Housing Council of Oregon regarding this.  Slattery is interested at the possibility of forming a Commission that deals with diversity and inclusion. 
    Linley expressed how difficult it is for her to see so many veterans remain homeless.  Being a Sanctuary City allows for the protection of those who may be in the country illegally and living in low-income housing while there are so many displaced homeless Veterans in shelters, stated Linley. Ideally it wouldn’t be either or as we don’t want to see anyone displaced agreed Linley.  
    The Commissioners discussed the way in which to structure the meeting and what questions to ask the applicants.  It was decided to give all the applicants a few general questions ahead of time in order to streamline the meeting.  Reid will send an email to all the applicants with the following questions.
  • Would you be able to do this activity if we don’t give you the funding?
  • What are your other sources of funding?
  • Is there anything you would like to explain to us the application didn’t allow for?
  • Describe how the funds are going to be used.
  • What was the rational for the amount of ask from the city
  • Outcome data.
    After their presentation the Commissioners may have some follow up questions for some of the applicants.
    The Commission will have a special work meeting to discuss the applications on Thursday March 16, 2017 from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  The question of “conflict of interest” was brought up.  What level of participation can a Commissioner take if they are on the board of one of the organizations?  Reid briefly outlined the guidance she had previously received from the City Attorney. If you are not gaining monetary benefit from it such as a direct employee of the organization and you feel you can be unbiased you may choose to participate, explained Reid.  It was suggested that being a Board Member maybe a conflict of interest because they have a fiscal responsibility to that organization.  Harris is on the Board of OHRA who has submitted an application.  Harris offered to not participate in OHRA’S presentation but inquired if she would be allowed to ask questions of the other applicants.  Harris commented she believes she can be unbiased.  Reid will speak to the City Attorney and get back with the Commissioners.  Boettiger commented though he supports Harris’ involvement there are two levels to be aware of, what’s legal and how it appears.
    Rohde reported at the last meeting the Commission voted to recommend to the City to request that the existing end of fund balance be put into a useable budget for the coming two years.  How does that get communicated to the City, inquired Rohde?  Goldman explained the Community Development Department is prepared to put the Housing Trust Fund balance of $166,000 before the budget officer (City Administrator) for inclusion into the next biennium budget so that it is then available for award.  The annual award process would be in concurrent with the CDBG process. 
    Slattery has a meeting scheduled tomorrow with Mayor John Stromberg and interim City Administrator John Karns.  Slattery is proposing to have the Housing Trust Fund be on an upcoming Study Session agenda for the City Council.  As directed by City Council this Commission drafted a document explaining the specific delineation of the money and how it would be used.  Rohde would like this document emailed to the other Commissioners for their review and then Reid will bring it to an upcoming meeting in order to approve it to move it forward to the Council. The document should be made available to the Council prior to the budget process being completed.
    Reid announced Harris and Linley are on the sub-committee for the Housing Element Update.  As part of that process they have scheduled an outreach meeting for Wednesday March 8, 2017.  Information regarding this meeting is on the City website.  There will be two different sessions; an open house from 5:00pm to 6:00pm followed by a public forum from 7:00pm to 8:30pm.  Volunteers are needed to host the event.  Reid also informed the Commission about a questionnaire on Open City Hall that she encouraged the Commissioners to fill out. 
    Council – Slattery reported at the last Council meeting quite a few angry citizens were organized to speak during the public forum.  He asked this Commission to be mindful of a couple of things. The public forum is a time for the Council to hear from citizens in the community, this is designed as a monologue not a dialoged.  It is not the intent of the Council to openly discuss the speakers concerns at the meeting nor will the item be put on that evenings agenda.  Slattery pointed out that it is this Commission member’s responsibility to help the City function well and set expectations to help keep the anger at least focused within the bounds of expectations.  Many were upset that their topic of concern, affordable housing, wasn’t added to the evening’s agenda.  They did not understand the process. Slattery reassured the Commissioners that Council is aware of the affordable housing issue and it requires patience on everyone’s part. 
    Parker suggested that in the future it might help to defuse anger if the Council could find a way to be more flexible and have a few words of compassion.  Slattery acknowledged the agenda rules are very strict but reassuring people we are going to pay attention to them and move it forward would be a good idea.
    Staff – Reid announced the Homeless Task Force has been working in conjunction with the City of Medford and ACCESS to put together a training opportunity titled, Challenges, Opportunities and Solutions.  The purpose is to bring people together to discuss what are the barriers to developing more housing stock, especially rental housing.  The event takes place on Wednesday March 15, 2017 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Smullin Center in Medford.
    Quorum Check – Everyone should be present
    Monday night The Temple Emek Shalom, the Havurah, Unite Oregon and the Hearth are co-sponsoring a night of immigration stories.  Eight different speakers will be sharing their immigration stories along with musicians.  The event will be held at the Temple Emek Shalom at 7:00 pm
    Next Housing and Human Services Regular Commission Meeting – 4:30-7:00 PM; March 23, 2017, in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development & Engineering Department located at 51 Winburn Way.
    The meeting was adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
    Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

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