Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Commission (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Minutes
Thursday, March 28, 2019

 
Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Draft Minutes
March 28, 2019
 
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, Oregon, 97520.
  
Commissioners Present: Council Liaison
Tom Gunderson Dennis Slattery – Not in attendance
Rich Rohde  
Heidi Parker SOU Liaison
Jackie Bachman None appointed at this time
Linda Reppond  
Sue Crader Staff Present:
Vacancy Linda Reid, Housing Program Specialist
  Liz Hamilton, Permit Technician
   
Commissioners Not In Attendance:  
Erin Crowley  
Gina DuQuenne  
 
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Commissioners Jackie Bachman/ Linda Reppond m/s to approve the minutes of February 28, 2019 regular commission meeting & March 14, 2019 special meeting. Voice Vote: All Ayes. Motion passed.
 
PUBLIC FORUM:
Introduction of 2 people applying for vacant Commissioner spot, Chris Mahan and Sara Spansail.
 
CDBG Applicant Presentations:
Rich Rohde made a statement that the applicants will have 10 minutes to present.  He also stated that that Commissioners are less interested in a general presentation about the program, and more interested in the quality and kind of services the applicants will be providing Ashland residents.  The Commissioners have read about the programs, so Rohde asked the applicants to concentrate on current services.
 
Maslow Project - Ashland School Based Outreach
Karen Phillips, Development Director for Maslow presented a summary of their program and some new and added services such as the emergency winter shelter for 18-24 year olds and the upcoming transitional housing project done in partnership with the Housing Authority of Jackson County.   Alex Fennimore, Case Manager at Maslow, presented a few cases that have benefited from Maslow’s services in the past year:
 
QUESTIONS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Where will the 15 bed unit be located?
Phillips replied, that they do not know the location.  Phillips stated that the Housing Authority has a location and identified that this will be their top priority program.  The development is probably 2 years out.  Will be the first designated units for homeless youth and families in the Rogue Valley. 
 
The 85-90 Clients you serve are from what area?
Ashland.  We work with about 2,200 people in the county.
 
Do you know the percentage of homeless Youth at Ashland High or Ashland Schools?
The percentage of homeless youth in Ashland is slightly lower than the State rate, but Jackson county as a whole has the 4th largest number of homeless students in the state.
 
Are you following the news about State legislation regarding funding for the homeless and supportive housing?
Yes, Mary (Farrell, Executive Director of Maslow) follows that for us. She is in conversations and trying to shine a light on Southern Oregon as our rates are approaching the numbers of larger urban areas.
 
In-house scholarships, how do those work?
The Scholarship program was started by an Ashland couple that gave Maslow seed money as a memorial scholarship.  All of the funding comes from individual donors and are restricted funds used only for homeless youth.  It can also be used for necessities needed to go to college as well, such as bedding, laptops, etc.
 
How did you fund the 16 bed emergency shelter and where is it located?
Its located in our Medford building.  Maslow went thru the planning process with city of Medford for a conditional use permit.  After the center closes at 5:00 pm, couches get pushed back and cots come out.  The shelter opens at 7 pm.  At 7 am everyone must leave, everything gets put away so business can start at 10 am.  These are the first emergency shelter beds designated for youth homeless.  The restrictions are age and shelter occupants must be engaged with Maslow, no drop ins.  Maslow has staff and volunteers that stay overnight with the kids.
 
What will you do if we cannot fund your total request?
Same thing we always do, find the money elsewhere and potentially scale back the services we provide.  Most years we are given less than we request, but we are committed to being here in Ashland and we plan on staying here.  The level of services we provide is dependent on the funds we receive?
 
St. Vincent De Paul-Home Visitation Program
Vickie Weiss, volunteer grant writer for Ashland St Vincent De Paul, presented a summary of their proposal.
 
QUESTIONS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Are you seeing changes with the demographics of the population your program serves?  Are there more children in households requesting assistance?
     Yes, it looks that way we are getting more families.  I was just reading something today I found astounding, a study that said they estimate 1 out of every 7 children in the US has experienced eviction in the last decade.  Rents are rising so quickly.  All it takes is a family that relies on a car and that car to breakdown to put them out on the street.  We are finding that more people are asking us not to pay the rent, but to pay the utilities, they don’t want the landlord to know they are struggling to pay the rent for fear they will be evicted.   We have heard that the most in the last year.
 
Parker commended SVDP for collaborating well with other programs.  Weiss responded “when we see a need that exceeds our funds, we reach out to other organizations to find people help.”
 
In the mental health area, how do you pull in the Mental Health providers to help?  Do you have difficulty with that?
Yes, but we just had a presentation, at our meeting last month, from the Alliance of Mental Health.  One of our volunteers is a Clinical Psychologist here in town, who specializes in trauma victims, so that has been enormously helpful.  We have volunteers that work at the VA, which helps with the veterans, etc.
 
What requests do you receive the most?
We get a lot of car repair requests.  For the chronic homeless, requests to pay for ID’s because you can’t even start applying for any help without identification. And then we are helping people learn to budget once we get them housed, sending them to Consumer Credit Counseling to stop impulse buying, and then we stay in touch with them for as long as is needed to make sure they get the budgeting under control to stay in housing.  Linda Reid made a statement that bad credit can be a barrier to obtaining rental housing.
 
Rogue Retreat-Downtown Clean Sweep Program
Matthew Vorderstrasse, presented a summary of their proposal and provided handouts.
 
QUESTIONS FROM COMMISSIONERS
What has been the response from the downtown business community in Ashland?
Vorderstrasse replied that Rogue Retreat hasn’t had a lot of response from the businesses in the City of Ashland itself, but in the City of Medford it has been very well received.  Part of growing the program has been soliciting sponsorships from downtown businesses and most recently we have received a sponsorship from Rogue Disposal.  We get a lot of gratitude from the community, we have shop and business owners come out and talk to the crews.  We are seeing it change the community dialogue, rather than an “us versus them” type issue, its creating a collaborative conversation to where its allowing businesses to see a program they can partner with and giving them a voice in part of the solution to eliminate the barriers and eliminate homelessness.
 
What is your plan to engage businesses in Ashland?
The plan would initially be to begin the service and stop and visit and talk to the shop owners and put a face to the name and get to know people.  In my personal opinion that is marketing policy #1. The nice thing about Ashland is its small enough community where you can feasibly do that. 
 
What communication do you have with other groups and partners in Ashland to work with you?
Initially the first conversation we had was just with Linda Reid and what her thoughts might be on seeing this program in downtown Ashland.  The plan would be if we are able to expand into Ashland would like to work with Ashland Community Resource Center and then Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland to be able to utilize the clients they are seeing to be able help give them employment skills.
 
Will you eventually be paying a wage?  Oregon Minimum or better? If so how many hours?
Yes, once we get to that point we would need to pay the Oregon minimum wage.  Currently in Medford with the amount of time people are putting in, it equates to half time employment and that is what we are envisioning.  Doing downtown Medford in the morning and downtown Ashland in the afternoon.
 
Are you identifying funds to pay wages?
That is what we are hoping for with the county.  One of the limits we would have if we were to receive CDBG funds, is we cannot do wage payments for the work they are doing, so the CDBG funds would be helping to pay Silvia’s salary (the coordinator for Downtown Clean Sweep) so she can coordinate the program in Ashland.  What we are trying to do with the business sponsorship and also the County funds is to leverage those funds to use as wage payments for the workers themselves.
 
How many people work on a crew?
Currently we have 7 workers, divided into 2 separate crews for different routes in downtown Medford.
 
How do you select workers?
Oftentimes, it is based on the interests of an individual.  Many of the homeless have income or employment but they are underemployed in many cases.  A lot of the people we see in this program, so far, have significant barriers, such as disabilities.  This is a way we are helping to train them and build their skills.  That is the population we are seeing coming in right now, that has an interest in participating in this program.  For the few that have moved on to steady employment, they had barriers and this helped them gain confidence in themselves and see that they are capable of working.
 
Have you had any bad feedback from your current project in Medford?
Have not heard any bad feedback yet.
 
Have heard that the businesses would volunteer to give gift cards. How do you determine gift cards donation? Is it just the businesses where the cleaning takes place?
So far any business that wants to donate gift cards can.  But most of them have come from the downtown businesses.  Medford Food Co-Op has donated, so support is coming from outside the downtown corridor.  We have also seen businesses with donation boxes contributing as well.  The program is providing window decals “We support Downtown Clean Sweep” for those that are donating and sponsoring.   
 
Do you offer any other job support?  Is there resume help?
Often those services tie into case management with Rogue Retreat participants.  Rogue Retreat provides a 5-level case management system.  We utilize the State of Oregon Homeless Management Information System and the 5 levels for life domain assessment, with that often comes resume help and skill building help. That is where the Clean Sweep program on top of case management coordinate to provide the most help. We also work with Goodwill and others in the community for job skills training.
 
Does your Coordinator act as a reference for jobs?
Yes, absolutely.
 
Are the people working connected to the shelters you provide?
Yes.  Currently Downtown Sweep is predominantly connected to our Kelly shelter but because of the nature of our agency it connects over to Hope Village as well.  So we are trying to treat it as an extension of the shelter programs.  That is why we would want to be able to extend a greater partnership with the shelters here in Ashland and duplicate this program in Ashland.
 
The Kelly Shelter is only 2-3 months right now?
Yes, but I’m confident that soon it will be a year round shelter.
 
We have limited funds, if we are not able to fund you completely, what would you do?
As a typical Non-profit, we would do what we can to see where else we could leverage the funds from to provide for any shortfalls.  Or scale back our plans for the project until we are more ready for it to move forward.
 
Food Angels
Facility Repairs.  Pamela Joy, founder, presented a summary of their proposal
 
QUESTIONS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Do you own the house?
Yes, it is my house
 
Statement by Linda Reid:  I met last week with Pamela and Carol, the grant writer, and talked about some of the issues we had with their application.  And it turns out she’s had a home occupation permit since 2011.  Pamela also took steps to create a lease for the non-profit to lease the garage at her house.
 
Are you still contributing to Head Start?
Oh yes. We still do every Wednesday and the wonderful thing about that is families at Head Start are introduced to foods they may have never thought of buying. Plus, people show them how it can be prepared.
 
2 commissioners make statements:  Jackie Bachman stated the local community organizations are grateful for Food Angles help.  Heidi Parker stated that she liked all the letters of recommendations included in the application.
 
STAFF EVALUATION OF CDBG GRANT APPLICATIONS and HOUSING AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMISSION CDBG AWARD DISCUSSION RECOMMENDATION:
 
Linda Reid Spoke about the struggle for the Commission to choose when there are not many public service funds to give and everyone is doing such good work.  Reid stated that HUD has a propensity to want to fund capital projects, which is why so little of the HUD funding is available to support public service activities.  The staff proposes dividing the public service funds between St Vincent De Paul and the Maslow project.  The Commission would like to encourage Rogue Retreat to apply again and apply for Social Service grant funds in the future. Staff evaluations are on line and both the staff and commission recommendations will be provided to the City Council.  The Council will make final awards on April 16th starting at 7 pm, you are all welcome to come and present.  By dividing the Money evenly between St Vincent and Maslow they will each get roughly 73% of their respective requests.  With regard to the Food Angels application, the identified issues have been resolved, and the staff recommends funding that project fully.  Even though they have not administered a CDBG grant before, this activity is very limited in scope and will be easy to implement and will expend the funds quickly.  The City may be in a position to offer a Request for Proposals (RFP) again in the coming year prior to the next actual grant cycle, because there is still more money for capital projects that needs to be expended.  
 
There was a brief discussion about when an RFP might be issued and what might constitute a capital project.  When it comes time to issue an additional RFP, a mass email to non-profit organizations will go out as well as a legal notice in the paper and on the city website.  Reid stated that an RFP could possibly be issued sometime between July and September.
 
Rich Rohde asks if there are any more questions or difficulties with the evaluations or recommendations.  Tom Gunderson stated, as a board member of Rogue Retreat, he needs to recuse himself from voting due to perceived conflict of interest.
 
Bachman/Crader m/s that we accept the staff proposed recommendations for the CDBG applications.  Voice Vote; Parker-yes, Bachman-yesReppond-yesCrader-yesRohde-yes, Gunderson recused himself from any voting.  Motion passed
 
 
LIAISON REPORTS AND GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS
City Council –   Not in attendance
Staff –   Reid, no report.  
General Announcement- Parker asked Reid if she could contact Connie Wilkerson about presenting to the Commission a presentation she did on the Ten-year Plan to End Homelessness at the last Homeless Task Force meeting.  Rohde talked about meeting with staff at the Senior Center to figure out how to connect Senior Center with Human Services.  Rohde also spoke about a new Oregon law on renter issues, and having some training and education offered to the public on the new laws.  Rohde also mentioned hearing about new State legislation that could provide 40 million dollars slated for affordable housing.
 
Brief discussion about how to schedule presenters for the 19 Social Service grants applications in the 2-hour time frame for the next regular meeting on April 25th.  The Commission asked to discuss this item at a special meeting scheduled for April 4th at 4 PM.
 
UPCOMING EVENTS AND MEETINGS
Special Housing Commission Meeting
     4:00-6:00 PM; April 4, 2019 Siskiyou Room of the Community Development Building
Joint Housing and Planning Commission special meeting 
     7:00-9:00 PM; April 23, 2019 - Council Chambers 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR                            
Next Housing Commission Regular Meeting
     4:30-6:30 PM; April 25, 2019 in the Siskiyou Room of the Community Development Building
 
ADJOURNMENT
The meeting was adjourned at 6:09 p.m.
 
Respectfully submitted by Liz Hamilton
 

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