Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Commission (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, March 22, 2018

 

Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Draft Minutes March 22, 2018
CALL TO ORDER
Commission Chair Rohde 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
Tom Gunderson Dennis Slattery
Rich Rohde  
Sue Crader SOU Liaison
Erica Franks  
Gina DuQuenne  
Jackie Bachman Staff Present:
Linda Reppond Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Absent: Carolyn Schwendener, Clerk
Heidi Parker  
 
Rohde welcomed the public guests along with City Councilor Dennis Slattery.  This is a great meeting for our Commission as we have worked for quite some time to develop the Housing Trust Fund to help accomplish some really good work in Ashland, stated Rohde.
 
PUBLIC FORUM
No one spoke
 
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Bachman/Crader m/s to approve the minutes of the February 22, 2018 regular Commission meeting with one correction.   (public forum, fourth paragraph down strike the sentence that reads ďReid does not have the time in her schedule to oversee the senior programsĒ) Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed with correction.
 
Bachman/Crader m/s to approve the minutes of the March 1, 2018 Special Meeting.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed.
 
CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATEMENT
Rhode gave the Commissioners an opportunity to disclose any conflict of interest and he announced that Commissioner Heidi Parker has recused herself and is not in attendance.
 
Gunderson disclosed at the last meeting that he is on the Board of Rogue Retreat and one of the presenters this evening is a staff person for Columbia Care who is also on the board. 
 
CDBG PRESENTATIONS
Each applicant will be given five minutes for their presentation followed by five minutes of questions. A set of questions were developed for the applicants to review ahead of time and they will have the opportunity to answer them this evening.
 
Ashland Housing Opportunities Ė Duward Brown, Housing and Facilities Director with Options for Southern Oregon (OSO) and Ellen Johnson, Development Director gave a summary of their application.
 
Questions from Commissioners
 
Do you deliver mental health services?
Ashland Housing Opportunities does not provide mental health services on site. We are solely a subsidized housing provider. If tenants do need services, we want to work with them and link them to services that can help them within the community.  Because this is a HUD funded project you cannot require a tenant to engage in services, only encourage them, explained Mr. Brown.  We currently provide three hours a week at Ashland Community Resource Center at no cost.
 
Do you have a waiting list?
Yes, after filling out the application people are placed on a waiting list and unfortunately those lists can get lengthy. 
 
How long are people usually there and where do they go when they leave?
Generally, tenants are there two to three years.  People have a variety of reasons why they leave.  Some are aging and need more assistance and support, others might leave to move to another community, etc.  Each person has their own reason.
 
How long is the current waiting list?
There are about twenty people on the list.  Itís hard to predict the time on the waiting list, stated Mr. Brown but usually itís about a year. Once again there are a lot of variables. 
 
Maslow Project Ė Mary Farrell, Founder and Executive Director of Maslow Project and Alex Fenimore, case manager in Ashland gave a summary of their application.
 
Alex shared a success story.  She has been working with a sophomore at Ashland High who lost her Mom about a year ago. The child was living with her single father who had a heroin addiction.  The Social Security benefits she received went directly to her dad who was using the money for his addiction.  They were able to freeze her Social Security benefits so her Dad wouldnít get them and she was recently able to get a payee.  Her next goal is to tackle emancipation so she can apply for jobs this summer.  Her attendance has been amazing and her grades are great.  Itís been wonderful to see how she is overcoming the barriers in her life, expressed Alex. 
 
Questions from Commissioners
 
In the chart in your application it says you have a target of eighty-five to ninety youth identified, forty-five will activity engage in case management services.  How do you determine those forty-five kids?
We actually triage like you would in an emergency room.  Upon intake we do an assessment with all kids and families to identify if they meet the homeless standard.  Determining if they will participate in case management is based on their trauma factors, crisis factors, their needs, resources available to them and willingness to participate.  All kids need some level of support, stressed Ms. Farrell.
 
Do you have court appointed advocates?
Yes, we collaborate with CASA. 
 
How does the summer outreach work as opposed to the School based program?
Both of our staff (Case Manager and Advocate) work fulltime in the summer. 
 
If you donít raise the tentative proposed grants in your application will you still be able to do this work?
We will continue to work with kids regardless.  We will pull from reserves if we have to.
 
Are there any institutions of Higher Education who provide any kind of scholarships?
The Federal law under the McKinney-Vento education act allows for any child who is designated as homeless (under the McKinney-Vento definition of unaccompanied) in High School allows them to jump through the FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) verification process even if they donít have a parent or guardian.  We also have in house scholarships and Alex helps navigate that transition to college.
 
If you didnít get quite as much money as you have requested from us how would you handle this?
We would pull from reserves or private individual donations. We think itís very important for the Community to invest in these children, one hundred percent of the kids we help are homeless.  We might have to reduce hours or cut back on support services.
 
St. Vincent DePaul Ė Volunteer Vicky Weiss gave a summary of their application pointing out their effort to help in a variety of ways with a variety of expenses with their own funds to supplement help of CDBG prevents homelessness.  Paul Adalian, President of St. Vincent DePaul was also present to answer questions.
 
Are the other sources of income that is referred to on page twenty-nine of your application for use in Ashland?
Yes, the other funding sources are for Ashland and Talent. Any money we receive from Ashland stays in Ashland.
 
What percentage of people you work with have kids and are they able to stay in school? 
We donít have any numbers on whether the children stay in school or not. When placing families in housing itís very important to those parents that their children stay in school.
 
If you didnít get the full amount you are requesting would you still go forward?
Yes, we have to do what we can.  Currently we are doing our best to meet the needs that come our way.  If we donít get the money it does affect the amount of people we can help. Ms. Weiss is seeking out more opportunities for grants and she would like to see the corporate side of the City step up and do more than they are doing.
 
This concluded the applicantís presentations and the Commissioners questions.
 
Reid distributed a memo with revised staff recommendations based on an amended application.  Because there are unallocated and carry over funds from prior years CDBG funds Reid reached out to both Columbia Care and Habitat for Humanity to see if they would be willing to accept CDBG funds rather than or in addition Housing Trust Fund money. See Exhibit A at end of the minutes. 
 
The question was asked why did Staff not recommend to fund the full amounts for each applicant. Reid explained there is a fifteen percent cap for public services activities (direct service activities) and it is fifteen percent of your overall grant. 
 
Bachman/Reppond m/s that we accept the staff recommendations for St. Vincent DePaul and Maslow.  Voice Vote; All Ayes, motion passed unanimously.
 
AFFORDABLE HOUSING TRUST FUND PRESENTATIONS
Columbia Care - Housing Director, Cindy Dyer gave a brief summary of their application. Columbia Care is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of the mentally ill. Ms. Dyer also answered the following questions she was given ahead of time.
 
What specifically in the delay added to the cost of the acquisition of the property?
The delay in the acquisition was because we had to wait for Rogue Credit Union to get their lot line adjusted.
 
Is this project in compliance with the pre funding conditions detailed in the (Oregon Housing and Community Services) OHCS funding reservation letter/ is Columbia Care able to meet the conditions of awards?
We are meeting those conditions. Some of those conditions will be conditions throughout the life of the project.  
 
Is your current planning action to rezone the property?
Itís looking like at this point we will not have to rezone the property.
 
What is the timeline for utilizing the OHCS funds?
The sources of funds are State Grant Funds, a standard Bank Loan, and any funds received from the City of Ashland. We utilize the grant funds first and the bank loan last. 
 
Why are there additional costs?
The longer it takes to break ground the cost generally goes up.  All the natural disasters have contributed to building costs going up.  We also did not originally add in our cost estimate a Land Use Planner or Architect which has added to our expenses. 
 
If the funds staff recommends go through what is the level of certainty that you will build this in a timely manner. 
We are motivated to get it done as quickly as possible as we need affordable housing in Ashland.  Originally Columbia Care was concerned about utilizing CDBG funding since those federal funds come with some additional regulations.  However, we have since found out that the inclusion of CDBG funding in this project will not trigger to many additional regulations which could raise the construction costs of the project. 
 
Are you still on the timeline you included in your application?
Yes, I think we are still able to meet that timeline.  The clock is ticking on the State funds as well. 
 
Who will own the Commercial space on the property and how would you manage it as a nonprofit?
Columbia Care will own it and it has the possibility of being one of our satellite offices.  Our main clinic is in Medford with another one in Central Point and White City, would be nice to have a clinic in Ashland.
Options for Homeless residents (OHRA) - Ken Gudger President and Lee Madsen Executive Director of the Resource Center were present to explain OHRAís three applications. 
 
Mr. Gudger answered the following questions the Commissioners asked ahead of time.
 
How does your proposal/program compliment St. Vincent DePaul rather than compete?
They are a key partner.  They are in our office most days.  Often times they start with a client and we finish with that client or we start with the client and they finish with the client.  We have met with their executive team and we are working on forming a more collaborative relationship.   We couldnít do our job without them.  They have asked us to open our office for an additional hour a day so their volunteers can be in there with their clients.
 
What is the extent you are able to work with clients in terms of length of time and/or complexity?
We have some clients that have been with us for over four years. Some of our clients/guests are just now getting their section 8 vouchersí recognized after four years.  With some clients we can take care of an eviction notice in a matter of days.
 
How would you go about securing enough funding so your navigators time is able to be used to serve clients?
Our navigator doesnít take any phone calls. We relieve her of all office duties so she can take clients every half hour during the day. 
 
(Regarding the property on Washington Street) Do you need to annex this property into the City? Have you made an application yet?
Yes, we will need to apply to annex it into the City but we have not applied yet.  We have spoken with planners and it is a likely possibility.    
 
If you are not able to annex the property what does that do to the project?
Not sure about that answer.  When talking to the planner it appears it can be.  We are hopeful it can be.
 
Staffís recommendation is to fund the middle proposal of $19,000.  If that is what we end up recommending how will you work with that? 
We would be able to start the predevelopment activities on Washington Street.  By the end of 2019 we would have an idea of what we can develop there and be in a position to ask for construction funding at the next cycle. It would be disappointing to not receive funding for the other two proposals as the housing portion is critical.  Last year we had thirty-four families we found homes for but we saw two-hundred and sixty-one people. That means there was over two-hundred homeless people we could not serve. 
 
Part of the request is for a Community Needs assessment?  Is that being requested of you or is that something ORHA generated because they felt would be valuable?
It was not requested of us it is something we would like to do.  We have three potential uses for that property, supportive housing, a permanent place for Ashland Community Resource Center, would like some additional space for Options Mental Health and a possible long term shelter.  A Community needs assessment would help us determine which is the highest priority of these potential uses. We would be asking City opinion leaders all the way down to the people we serve. We have been working with a Consultant out of Cottage Grove who is willing to help us.  
 
Habitat for Humanity Ė Dennis James, Executive Director was present and explained the amendment to their funding request. Ms. James explained they were approached by the developer who, due to inclusionary zoning requirement of the City of Ashland, is required to have a provision of affordable housing.  Originally a verbal agreement was made with the realtor that Habitat would apply for $50,000 to purchase five lots but whatever was awarded would be the amount Habitat would pay for the land. 
 
The conversations between the developer, the Ashland Planning Department and Habitat for Humanity has been ongoing and changes to the Habitat project developed.  In order for Habitat to recover the costs and still maintain affordability in Ashland, all costs must be as low as possible, stated Ms. James.  The houses within the proposed subdivision will have higher costs due to a requirement of conformity, HOA fees, and the expected property taxes which are higher in Ashland.  Because of this Habitat renegotiated with the land owner, Mr. Young, for the cost of the land. At this time there is no purchase agreement between the parties involved, only a verbal agreement.
 
Habitat is requesting to amend the grant request from $250,000 for five lots to $50,000 for five lots at $10,000 per lot, each built to accommodate an income no higher than 80% AMI. 
 
Really appreciate the ancillary benefits of the womenbuild program and education for students. Very worthwhile proposal. How will you adjust if we choose the staff recommendation and utilize the CDBG funds for your project?
It might give us a little more reporting but we donít have a problem with that. 
 
What is the current zoning?
Iím donít know it hasnít been changed yet.  I donít even know the exact value of the lot but Iím quite confident it is far more than $10,000. 
 
Is the developer paying for the infrastructure? (Asked by an audience member Ė Karen Logan)
Yes, everything would be shovel ready to go for us.
 
This concluded the presentations.
 
Commissioner Bachman commended staff for the hard work they did on evaluating these applications and for helping us to see the different parts of the whole.
 
Reid explained to the Commissioners how staff arrived at their recommendations for both the Community Development Block Grant Funds and the Housing Trust Fund. 
 
The Commissioners discussed the applications and made the following motions.
 
Franks/Bachman m/s to support Ashland Housing Opportunities and Columbia Care as per Staff Recommendation. Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed. 
 
Reid let the applicants know that this commission will make their recommendation to the City Council at their April 17, 2018 meeting.  She invited them all to attend.
 
Reppond/Bachman m/s to recommend the approval of the $50,000 for Habitat for Humanity from CDBG.  Voice Vote; All Ayes, motion passed.
 
Reppond/Bachman m/s that we accept the staff recommendations for the Housing Trust Fund applications.  Voice Vote; All Ayes, motion passed.
 
Crader made the comment that the Commission just made a motion to approve awarding CDBG funds to both Columbia Care and Habitat without either of them actually applying for the funds.  Will it be required that they make an application? Reid explained they wonít need to fill out an application but she will need some documents from them.  Staff considered them for CDBG because they had applied for Housing Trust Fund money, had they not done that staff wouldnít have considered it.  We need timing and budget.
 
Gunderson asked why can we recommend awarding Federal money without having those agencies submit applications.  Reid responded that the City is allowed of offer CDBG funds in a variety of ways, through an RFP process, through a selection process, or we can allocate them ourselves. If we hadnít had this funding already on hand and there werenít other applicants for the money, we wouldnít have gone through this process.
 
Reid explained the process is she will write an Action Plan to HUD who will accept it and we will tell them we went through this process.  People can contest the process if they feel it is unfair or doesnít meet HUD regulations for the CDBG program and those comments go to HUD.  Just need to be transparent as how and why we do the process. 
 
Staff will draft a Council Communication with your recommendations along with the minutes from the meeting and the staff evaluation.  This will go to the April 17, 2018 City Council meeting.  Would be useful if the Commissioners attended the meeting and be available for questions by the Council.    
 
UPCOMING EVENTS AND MEETINGS
Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting Ė 4:30-6:30 PM; April 26, 2018, at 51 Winburn Way.
 
ADJOURNMENT
The meeting was adjourned at 6:35 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener 
 

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