Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes May 24, 2018
CALL TO ORDER
Commissioner 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
Sue Crader SOU Liaison
Linda Reppond Staff Present:
Gina DuQuenne Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
The Commissioners introduced themselves to potential new Commissioner, Erin Crowley. Ms. Crowley has recently moved here from Portland. She is a Pastor with plans to plant a new Church this coming year. Ms. Crowley has been involved in affordable housing in both San Diego and Portland. She has a deep desire to help support others flourish in life with justice and equality.
Audience member Rachel introduced herself. Rachel was attending this meeting because she is taking a US Government class at Rogue Community College and one of her assignments was to observe a Community meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Reppond/Crader m/s to approve the minutes of the April 26, 2018 regular Commission meeting with one minor correction. Voice Vote: All Ayes, motion passed with correction.
H&HS COMMISSION GOAL REVIEW AND DISCUSSION
The Commissioners reviewed the goals that were set at their annual goal setting retreat on December 13th of last year.
Goal: Bring Mental Health services to Ashland
Reid commented she was interested to hear that Options is having a mental health provider come to the Ashland Community Resource Center on a regular basis. Its only for a short amount of time, three hours a week, but it’s a start and perhaps those hours will increase over time.
Goal: Funding for a Shelter Coordinator
Parker explained there is Emergency Shelter Grant money earmarked from HUD to fund a shelter coordinator but it has not happened yet. A new development has occurred requiring the imputing of new information on each guest into a software program called Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Parker is hopeful they can start this summer to get the people who will need the shelter in the winter months pre-registered.
The Car Camping Program is still moving forward. Rhode stated that the Quakers have expressed their support behind the program but do not have a space available at this time. Rhode acknowledged there is community groups out there looking for other congregations that could be supportive as well.
Gunderson reported that Rogue Retreat is gearing up to have a county wide shelter. The Executive Director of Rogue Retreat, Chad McComas, has identified a property located in the County owned by Jackson County. There have been concerns expressed that it might be difficult for Medford to accommodate even more homeless people. In January of 2017 Rogue Retreat opened the Kelly Shelter providing winter shelter for the homeless. Parker commented that once the Kelly Shelter opened the Ashland Shelter saw an increase in guests, due to the Kelly Shelter being full.
Reid has been attending the Continuum of Care meetings. She pointed out that the County has the possibility of losing funding because we have not met the criteria HUD has placed on the funds. New criteria states that housing has to be along the Housing First Model, no one is turned away for any reason and all participants in the Continuum of Care must adopt that policy, stated Reid. Everyone must also use the HMIS system.
Parker read an article in both the local papers today that implied the reason Ashland and Medford have so many homeless is due to the services they provide. Commissioners felt that this article was misleading. Both Eagle Point and Central Point conveyed homelessness is not an issue for their communities. Reid called attention to the Jackson County Homelessness Task Force preliminary results in which the Point in Time count found 732 homeless people identified the night the count took place. This is an increase of 99 people, a 15.6% increase from last year, making it the highest count in seven years.
Goal: Support Porta-Potty project
Reid will speak with Public Works Director, Paula Brown to see if they have made any headway with this and report back at next month’s meeting. Parker spoke about a conversation she had with a local businessman who is not happy with the way in which the porta potty is set up. He has noticed the porta potty is often locked so people can’t get in them and he frequently has to clean up around it. He inquired as to why the City of Ashland hasn’t invested in some nice public restrooms for the people downtown? The Commissioners would like to see that happen and Parker pointed out there are new designs in public bathrooms which could help with issues raised in the past. The City of Portland has bathrooms where the bottom is open allowing the ability to see people’s feet keeping them from camping in them. Parker would like to see this Commission pursue and bring to the Council a report that shows what different options cost including ideas of what other communities are doing. Bachman brought to the attention of the group there are really nice bathrooms at Ashland Creek Community Gardens located on Hersey Street. Unfortunately, homeless people have started moving into those restrooms so they are now being locked at a certain time. Commissioner DuQuenne volunteered to do research on porta potties and report back.
Goal: Land Bank
Rohde announced that the City of Talent is having a public forum on housing solutions tonight. They list a number of policy options, two of which are land banking and land trusts. A group called Grounded Solutions is doing a two-part webinar on land banks and land trusts.
Parker commented the City has done so little for affordable housing and without the land not much progress will happen. The City is currently purchasing two pieces of property, Oak Street and Briscoe School. No one has talked about setting that land aside and actively build on it, commented Parker.
Parker discussed the need for workforce housing and affordable housing in our Community. If we made it a goal to identify one piece of land and if we were able to build one affordable housing unit it would be awesome, stated Parker. The entities that own large pieces of buildable lands in Ashland is Southern Oregon University, The Ashland School District and the City of Ashland. If some of that land could be used to build affordable and workforce housing it would really make a difference to our Community. It was suggested to put together a packet of information to share with all the players involved or bring them together and have a presentation given by Rob Justus, the developer who spoke at the Housing Forum a couple of years ago. Put on next month’s agenda.
Goal: Increase DHS child care providers and family-friendly childcare
Franks inquired where would be a good place to start and whom could she speak with regarding this goal. Reid suggested starting with the Childcare Resource Network. They train childcare providers getting them through the licensing so they can get rural development food financing to be able to provide food for the children. They can take DHS payments. Franks emphasized there are child care providers established but they don’t have a facility to operate out of. It was suggested that churches are an ideal place to start as well. They often have the space and appreciate a little extra income. Franks will do some research on this and get back with the Commission.
Goal: Mental Health Services
Gunderson asked the question, what is the population we are talking about serving? We have plenty of mental health therapist in private practice but we are not talking about the people they serve, remarked Gunderson. Reid is on the La Clinica board and she said the subcommittee brought up the possibility of utilizing the services of the medical van. They offer mental health counselling in the van. The problem with the use of the Van is that they never know who is going to show up and what their needs will be. Another issue is though the clients might have Oregon Health Plan coverage they don’t necessarily fill out the paperwork in order to allow La Clinica to get reimbursed.
WINTER SHELTER COMMITTEE UPDATE
Reppond updated the Commissioners regarding finding a location for the emergency shelter. There is a fairly broad based group of people who are working on different fronts, explained Reppond. The groups are looking at all options, existing properties, tent structures, yurts, domes, warehouses, everything is on the table. A subcommittee is working on identifying the criteria of what they need the shelter to have. (being on a bus line, having adequate bathrooms, etc). A subcommittee is looking at the car camping possibility and working with faith based groups to develop more car camping options. A group is working on asking the Governor to create a State of Emergency state wide for housing which could open up some options. Also is a funding sub-committee and a food sub-committee. Reppond confirmed that in order to have the shelter open in November a location will need to be identified by July. The next Committee meeting will take place on June 6, 2018 at 7:00 pm at the Library. See exhibit A at the end of the minutes with the Sub-Committee information.
SOCIAL SERVICE GRANT PLAN REVIEW AND DISCUSSION
Reid informed the Commissioners that the Social Service Grant process will take place again in January 2019. The Strategic Plan goals were intended to be reviewed periodically to make sure that the funding priorities were meeting the needs of the community. Reid received feedback from grant applicants, St. Vincent DePaul and Maslow, saying that the process is really difficult for small nonprofits to be asked to keep coming back for such small grants. Reid invited them to come to the next month’s meeting to provide the Commissioners some input from their point of view. Crader felt this is one of the easiest grant processes to apply for requiring very little reporting. If the process is to bothersome or too little funding don’t bother to apply, commented Crader.
The Commissioners reviewed the Strategic Plan to determine if the key priorities were still what needs to be funded. The Commissioners agreed with all the priorities but it was suggested as a Commission to choose a couple priorities and communicate that to providers.
At the next meeting Reid will provide a calendar showing the timeline of what needs to happen between now and January. The Commission would like to hold a forum in late September or October to discuss the community needs and what the providers are seeing. An invite list needs to be generated and inviting the councilors is crucial.
LAISION REPORTS -
Council – Bachman emphasized the importance of connecting with the Council on the Social Service grant process. She asked the Commissioners for their ideas on how to do that. Bachman is able to have input to the other Councilors with individual meetings. She explained that in order for a topic to get on the Agenda it must first be on the “look Ahead” and can take three or four months before getting on the actual agenda.
The Commission had the idea of putting together a questionnaire for the Councilors and each Commission member would meet with a Councilor and interview them. This would also give the Commissioners an opportunity to educate the Council on CDBG and the Housing Trust Fund. The information would then be brought back to the Commission for discussion. Reid will generate a list of all three programs with the priorities and let the Councilors prioritize them based on that list.
Staff – Reid, Rohde and others have been working on bringing a conference on manufactured housing to Southern Oregon. The conference will be held on Thursday October 4th at Ashland Hills Hotel. 8am-9am will be registration and breakfast, 9am to 4pm will be the program followed by a reception from 4pm to 6pm. Rhode added the conference is focusing on preserving our mobile homes for affordable housing and how to stabilize them and make them sustainable and discuss the option of residence owned parks.
Reid announced Project Community Connect will be held next Friday June 1st at the Medford Armory from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. PCC is a one-day fair for homeless and at risk individuals and households. It includes entertainment, raffles, lunch, tons of service providers, health care, veterinarians, clothing, judges and amnesty courts, just to name a few. In the past the event has had up to 600 people attend. Reid encouraged everyone to attend as this is an awesome event.
Parker shared at the Jackson County homelessness taskforce meeting Mary Ann Baker, who works with the State, brought together land owners and developers to discuss the difficulty in constructing affordable housing. Parker shared with them information on our Housing Trust Fund. It appeared they were not aware of it. Many of them would like to do affordable housing but cannot financially afford to.
Gunderson reported that Karen Logan, himself and a couple of others met with Interim City Administrator Adam Hanks, the Mayor, The City Attorney and a City Planner to talk about tiny houses in Ashland. Adam is scheduling a couple of dates for interested parties, Councilors, the mayor, City staff to visit Hope Village in Medford. Getting people in and seeing how a well-run program will be beneficial to the efforts to do tiny houses in Ashland. Gunderson encouraged everyone on this commission to take a tour of Hope Village and see what they are doing.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND MEETINGS
Quorum check - Everyone should be here at the next meeting.
Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting – 4:30-6:30 PM; June 28, 2018, at 51 Winburn Way.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener