Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting
Minutes Thursday, June 28, 2018
Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission Minutes June 28, 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.
Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
APPROVAL OF MINUTES Parker/Reppond m/s to approve the minutes of the May 24, 2018 regular Commission meeting. Voice Vote: All Ayes, motion passed.
PUBLIC FORUM No one spoke.
CDBG PROPOSAL REVIEW AND RECOMMEDATION Reid explained that the Ashland Fire & Rescue Housing Safety Program for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities, in collaboration with Age Friendly Innovators (AFI), Home Depot and with the Community Development Department would like to assist eligible seniors and persons with disabilities to make safety and or accessibility modifications to their residences. This program aims to help these residents improve conditions which enhance safety and mobility so they can remain safely in their homes. The group is asking for $50,000 in CDBG money to fund this pilot program.
John Bowling, Chair of Age Friendly Innovators and Paul Westerman, Board Member of Age Friendly Innovators and Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity along with Fire Chief Michael D’Orazi were present to talk to the Commission about their program proposal.
In his previous tenure as Fire Chief, Chief D’Orazi participated in a similar program which was very successful and well received by the Community in which he lived. We often respond to victims of falls, many of those fall are senior citizens or disabled persons, stated Chief D’Orazi. These falls can be due to inaccessibility issues with their homes, i.e.; no grab bars, non-grip surfaces, bathtubs, toilets, smoke detectors, small doorways, no ramps. Helping with these things can help keep them safely in their homes and reduce the amount of emergency calls to that home. It is also a great way to reach out to these people in our community.
AFI was founded about three and half years ago by Howard and Sharon Johnson who had the passion and energy for creatively making life better for older adults, added Mr. Bowling. One of our biggest challenges in finding out who is out there and what their need is. Often it is the Fire Department who is aware of these people making them a good partner in the program. The typical cost of a call of an older person in a home is anywhere from $32,000 to $34,000. The typical amount of money spent on a home renovation is about $385.00. This program would be a wonderful preventative effort.
The Commission discussed the application.
Councilor Bachman pointed out that at the Ashland Senior Center it is not unusual to have people come in and ask for help with safety issues around their house. If there is an opportunity for safety training and education for seniors it would be very helpful.
Reid explained the process for this application. Because the City has already submitted the 2018 Action Plan to HUD and we are going back through the Public Hearing Process we will submit an amendment to HUD for them to confirm whether it meets HUD regulations, confirmed Reid.
It was brought to the attention of the Commission that several years ago the City had an application to improve homes through Habitat for Humanity to income qualified households. The program was not very successful due to a lack of applicants. The question was asked “How do we know this new program will succeed and can it be used for people in mobile homes as well?” Reid explained the difference between the programs is that Habitat was a loan program in which applicants had to pay back the money, this program is a grant and as long as the applicant qualifies there will be no pay back requirement. Reid also confirmed that the money may be used for Mobile Homes as well because it is a grant and not a loan.
It was suggested to the applicants to check with All Care. If applicants qualify they will provide grab bars and some limited home modifications. Reid will check with both All Care and Jackson Care Connect to see what services they can offer.
Crader/Parker m/s to accept staff’s recommendation. Voice Vote, all ayes, motion passed.
This application will go before the City Council at their August 7, 2018 meeting.
The Commissioners concluded by saying this is a great program and they are very excited to see it happening.
The Commissioners asked Reid to put together a spreadsheet showing what funds are available and what funds have been appropriated for both the CDBG and the Housing Trust Fund. She will bring the spreadsheet to next month’s meeting.
SOCIAL SERVICE GRANT PLAN UPDATE PROCESS DISCUSSION The Commission decided it would be helpful to hold a forum to gain feedback from former, current and potential grantees on the priorities, strategies, process and changes that they might like to see with the Social Service Grant process. The Commissioners agreed they need to hear from the entire community, not just service providers. They discussed ways to reach out beyond the internet to bring people in. It was suggested to do in person interviews at targeted places such as SOU, Senior Center and Faith Communities. A subcommittee was formed to discuss outreach ideas and survey questions targeted to both citizens and grantees. The subcommittee will be DuQuenne, Franks, Crowley and Rohde. They will give a report at next month’s meeting.
An updated invitation list needs to be made and Reid will work on that. It was suggested to use the Library as the venue. The Gresham room and maybe one of the smaller rooms as well for breakout session. The first choice for dates is September 27, 2018 at 4:00 pm. Reid will check with the Library for availability.
LAISION REPORTS Council Liaison Report - Bachman is part of a group who is working on finding a location for a shelter. The group consists of Adam Hanks, John Wieczorek, Vanessa Houk and Dennis Slattery. They have a list of possibilities including all City owner properties and buildings. Bachman feels very encouraged about one site in particular, a church that is for sale. Bachman explained she is a liaison to three other groups, The Culture for Peace, Forest Lands and RVTD. She reported that the Accessory Residential Unit Ordinance is moving forward.
Staff Liaison Report – Reid spoke with Paula Brown to get an update regarding the placement of a porta potty. With her busy schedule it has not been a priority for her at this time. Reid spoke with City Attorney, Dave Lohman about Noah Hurley becoming the Commissions SOU Liaison. Noah is an employee at SOU not a student. Mr. Lohman doesn’t see a problem with it but is checking on one more thing. On July 6, 2018 will be a homeless Regional shelter discussion at 9:30 am at ACCESS. Gunderson is on the board for Rogue Retreat and reported at a recent meeting it was confirmed they have enough money for a Regional Shelter and have identified a building on West Main in Medford that has a commercial kitchen along with a small park in the back. It’s also on a bus route and near markets. At the July 6th meeting they are looking to get input from people around the county as well as those who might like to partner with them.
CNPLS LANDLORD-TENANT TRAINING Joe Fichter, Staff Attorney for the Center for Non Profit gave a training addressing Landlord-Tenant Rights. Most of Mr. Fichter’s work is spent on housing issues and outreach into the Community as to what tenant rights are. He has worked for The Center for Non Profit Legal Services for four years and before that as a volunteer for them. Mr. Fichter works a lot with ACCESS and their Ready to Rent Program.
He talked about how renters can get back their security deposits. I always encourage them to take notes of the condition of the property, photographs, videos and even taking a friend with them, said Mr. Fichter. Understand what your rights are with applications, if you’re turned down you must receive a reason why. Understand Fair Housing and know what is discriminatory and what is not. He also encourages anyone with a complaint to put it in writing and hand deliver it, verbal is not enough. If a renter is withholding rent due to something that needs fixed just be sure and not spend that money. It’s important that the judge sees the money is available to pay the rent and it wasn’t spent on other things. The most important thing is to show up at the first appearance or you lose automatically. My goal, stated Mr. Fichter is to empower people to represent themselves.
Mr. Fichter acknowledged that most landlords really do want to do the right thing. Sometimes he just needs to work with them and communicate with the tenants. The State publishes a renters Rights Booklet found online at lasoregon.org and oregonlawhelp.org. Other information is found at oregonlawhelp.org. Both booklets are offered in Spanish as well.
When a tenant moves out the landlord has thirty-one days to account for the deposit money. Ideally the tenant would get everything back if they don’t they have to tell the tenant what they did with the money they kept. If there is a dispute it would go to small claims court. Another concern is the application fee can be as high as $250.00. Landlords should not be taking applications from numerous applicants just to collect the fee, that is not in good faith.
Mr. Fichter mentioned it is often difficult to prove discrimination when landlords interview and select a tenant. It is necessary to prove that there has been a long pattern of discrimination. Fair Housing Council of Oregon offers testers who can check on discrimination.
The Commissioners thanked Mr Fichter for an excellent presentation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS Reppond reported the One Site Committee is meeting and trying to find something available to use for a homeless shelter by the end of July. At this time the most promising space immediately available is at the Presbyterian Church. They are considering offering shelter four consecutive nights, Thursday through Sunday. Even with this we still need a place for three nights stressed Reppond.
The possibility of bussing people to the County Shelter was discussed. It was determined that the unhoused population in Ashland consider Ashland as their home and getting to Medford is really a challenge. It was agreed both the County Shelter as well as one in Ashland is necessary.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND MEETINGS Quorum check – Reppond and Crader will not be here for next month’s meeting.
In August the Inter Faith Social Justice Coalition is sponsoring a summit at the Methodist Church brining all the faith communities in Ashland together to see how they can support the work that is going with shelter solutions.
Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting – 4:30-6:30 PM; July 26, 2018, at 51 Winburn Way.
ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at 6:30 p.m. Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener
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