Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes April 26, 2018
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 Jackie Bachman
Rich Rohde  
Sue Crader SOU Liaison
Erica Franks  
Heidi Parker  
Linda Reppond Staff Present:
  Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Absent: Carolyn Schwendener
Gina DuQuenne  
No one spoke
Reppond/Franks m/s to approve the minutes of the March 22, 2018 regular Commission meeting and the March 1, 2018 special meeting with correction. Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed with correction. 
At the April 17, 2018 City Council meeting Rohde presented the Housing and Human Services CDBG and HTF Award report along with the Commission’s recommendation highlighting the notion that between staff and the Commission a unanimous decision was made.  The Commission recommended to fund two social service projects with CDBG money:  $16,655 to St. Vincent de Paul and $7,143 to Maslow.  These amounts were not the full amounts applied for and the Council asked the Commission to consider adding more funding to both projects using the Housing Trust Fund money. 
The Commission discussed this possibility.  They agreed the Council might have been somewhat confused as to what the requirements for each pot of money were.  It was suggested in the next funding cycle to provide to the Council more information regarding how the request for proposal was issued and confirm all interested parties were notified.  It would be helpful to provide a single page describing what each fund can technically be used for. 
The Commissioners acknowledged having two meetings prior to the applicant’s presentations was exceptionally helpful.  It gave them the opportunity to look at the grants and discuss them ahead of time.  They also appreciated having a City Councilor attend their meetings getting the benefit of learning the grant process. 
Due to feedback on the planning application at the Council meeting, Habitat for Humanity submitted a revision to their original AHTF request, consequently staff changed their recommendation creating some confusion. Though they didn’t apply for CDBG funds it was decided to fund Columbia Care with CDBG as well as with HTF money.  The Commission would still like to see Columbia Care turn in an application for that money. 
Did applicants who would have otherwise applied for CDBG funds apply for HTF money instead because it was so much easier to work with, less regulations, questioned Reid.   It was suggested in the future to offer the two funding sources (CDBG and HTF) at different times.  Reid said this is a possibility but a change would need to be made to the HTF resolution.
Parker reported they officially ended the 2017/2018 overnight homeless shelter season the first week of April.  This was ten days earlier than usual.  Parker reported this was the biggest year yet providing shelter for 122 night including three emergency shelters from mid-November till early April.  The guests ranged from thirty-five to fifty people each night, limited only by the fire code occupancy rates at each site.  They had ninety-six overnight volunteers with at least two volunteer hosts spending each night.  An additional 246 volunteer slots were filled to provide support to those spending the nights.  The volunteers help prepare and serve food, welcome and sign in guests, serve as listeners and do general set up and clean up.  In all volunteers contributed 3989 hours of time at a value of $96,306.53.  We couldn’t have done all of this without their generous support, stated Parker.
Some of the largest problems they encountered were related to the facilities, Pioneer Hall in particular.  Fire Code limited the number of guests forcing them to turn away people.  It was difficult to decide who to turn away.  Bathroom facilities were not large enough to accommodate the large groups.  One toilet in Pioneer Hall broke which created quite a problem.  Storage was not available to utilize which meant items had to be stored in a trailer in the parking lot close to the building.  That parking lot sold this last year and trailer had to be removed, emphasized Parker.  Another problem for the hosts was due to the Fire code it was required of them to do a “walk around” the building every fifteen minutes to insure there was no fire.  The kitchen is very old and we could not use the range.  We were not allowed to leave items in the refrigerator overnight so we had to clean it out each morning. 
The Fire Marshall has told us we cannot use the facility this coming Fall.  The dilemma we face is, What location can we use? How much money will we need to cover our costs? What are the zoning regulations? safety regulations?  Parker went on to say they would like to get some help from the City in finding a facility. A One-Site Committee has been formed to look at these issues along with several other things.  If we cannot find an answer by the Fall and we have the large amount of homeless people on the streets, it will become a real problem. 
Rhode remarked, It’s all hands on deck!  If we don’t do something about this situation it would be a real tragedy. 
Council - Bachman reported that she and the Mayor along with their spouses took a trip to Eugene to tour of the programs that St. Vincent de Paul established for that community. The City of Eugene has a large homeless population prompting St. Vincent de Paul to address this concern.  The purpose of these programs is the help its members transition into more affordable housing.  St. Vincent de Paul purchased a former bank building converting it into a site for services which became a very important part of the hub.  Some of the services offered in this community gathering facility, stated Bachman, is a very clean restaurant, laundry services, dog kennels, showers and food pantry.  Crisis assistance is available as well as a drug center.  Areas are provided for car camping, shelters, Conestoga’s, tents and tiny houses.  Bachman went on to say you have to come into these camps with a transition plan and have a willingness to move toward goals if you want to stay there. 
Bachman said we need an Ashland solution for our homeless population by November when the weather creates a need for it.  We don’t need a large piece of land; smaller parcels will work assured Bachman.
A discussion followed as to the best use of the available grant money.  Reid distributed information on all funding sources that the two grantees received in prior years from the City as requested by Commissioner Crader. 
One of the concerns the commissioners had was that neither Maslow nor St. Vincent de Paul applied for the HTF money but Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland (ORHA) did.  The question was asked, Do we want to shift funds to two organizations that didn’t apply and not fund the one which did apply? 
The support of the emergency shelter was the consensus of the group.  Reid confirmed the emergency shelter is an approved activity the HTF money can be used for.  Reid went on to say the money was meant to be flexible. 
After the discussion the following motion was made.
Rohde/Reppond m/s to not close the Housing Trust Fund immediately but potentially offer a reopening of that process with a focus on emergency shelter as a priority because that is a number one priority as a Commission.  Voice Vote; All ayes, motion passed.
Commissioner Parker made the comment though she doesn’t benefit financially from this motion she does benefit emotionally and recused herself before the vote and left the room
Reid reviewed the CDBG process explaining all the different components.  This document, the CDBG Action Plan for Program Year 2018, describes the projects the City will undertake and the manner in which the projects are consistent with the priorities of the Five-year Consolidated Plan.  While reviewing the document Reid noticed she had left off the money allocated to Habitat for Humanity for the construction of five units.  She will amend the proposal to include them.
After a brief discussion with a few correction and suggestions the following motion was made.
Crader/Reppond m/s to accept the Annual Action Plan 2018 as amended.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed.
Staff- Reid announced that the Mayor has asked that she attend the Continuum of Care Board Meetings.  As a region we receive some funding from HUD to assist with various homeless services.  Traditionally that funding source was overseen by the Jackson County Homeless Task Force but in the last year they have undergone some changes to create a stronger board that meets HUD requirements for that funding source.  The new Board is called the Continuum of Care Board.  The Mayor will also be attending.
Rohde attended the Transportation Housing Coalition meeting which brings together Jackson County stake holders that represent the Transportation groups, the health equity groups and the housing groups from around all the local cities in Jackson County.  They came up with five priorities that we’ll be hearing more about as they move forward, stated Rohde. 
Rohde announced there was a Livability Solutions Forum in Medford put on by AARP.  It was an outstanding event that looked at policy focusing on the state plan rolled out to the communities.  Its important ant that we are aware of the laws that are being passed at the state level emphasized Rohde.
Reppond announced a Compassion Conference this weekend with a session on the unhoused.  Also the Empty Bowl Fund Raiser is tomorrow at 4:00 pm.
Parker pointed out her husband is the Jackson County Public Health Officer and they have encountered a rise in drug abuse deaths over the first five months of this year.  Fentanyl has arrived and it is very dangerous.  It gets mixed with cocaine, heroin and even marijuana. Parker said if we know of anyone who is using drugs it’s important to make them aware of this dangerous problem as it can kill you. 
This year’s goals and where we are with each of them.
Social Service grant strategic plan, review the community needs and priorities. 
Review the RFP that would go out in January. 
Commission membership and how to do outreach to encourage others to join.
Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting – 4:30-6:30 PM; May 24, 2018, at 51 Winburn Way.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:25 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener 

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