Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:31 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Morris, Rosenthal, Voisin, Slattery, Lemhouse, and Marsh were present.
1.     Review of Look Ahead
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead. 
2.     Discussion of grant applications for a Help Center for those in need, including the homeless, in Ashland
Leigh Madsen, chair and project liaison of Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland (OHRA) explained how building relationships over time with low income and homeless residents resulted in positive change in their lives and how the help center would assist in that endeavor.  The OHRA resource center would meet basics needs by providing restrooms, showers, laundry, internet, bag storage and a mailing address.  The center would develop an outreach program to serve the low income population and the homeless.  It would be open at least 20 hours a week and staffed with one employee.  OHRA would cover housing, employment services, mental health support, addiction recovery, and transportation through an extensive network of agencies and volunteers.  A site based facility and the 501c3 would allow OHRA to solicit grants from government and non-government agencies.
Access Executive Director Jackie Schad explained Access proposed a mobile unit instead of a facility.  If Council chose OHRAís proposal, Access would support and help them. 
Sarah Hopkins Powell from the ad hoc Homelessness Steering Committee (HSC) explained the HSC reviewed both proposals for strengths and weaknesses.  Access strengths were their proven track record, and they offered many of the services in the proposal.  The mobile unit would provide flexibility and serve different areas of Ashland.  Access also had an existing data base to track clients and solid relationships with other social service agencies.  OHRA strengths included established relationships with Ashland homeless people, a strong local volunteer base, a facility with showers, laundry facilities and one coordinator as a point of contact.
Weaknesses identified in the Access proposal were transportation costs for the mobile unit, limited services and a smaller local volunteer base.  Weaknesses in the OHRA proposal were they were new, unproven, and the proposed facility was in a residential neighborhood.  They were currently a licensed non-profit and would receive a 501c3 soon.
The HSC did not vote on the proposals but discussed the possibility of combining them.  An ideal solution was a fixed site with a mobile unit.  Access had experience dealing with housing issues and worked with near homeless.  Not having a site often presented a barrier to accessing those services. 
Mr. Madsen explained OHRA viewed Ashland and Talent as a single unit for services.  He described his role as a homeless advocate and site manager and the importance of having clear expectations and guidelines for what constituted acceptable behavior from the clients and what did not.  Additionally he recruited volunteers for management, bookkeeping and the data base system.
OHRA raised enough funds to pay their bills and would be eligible for grants once they received their 501c3.  They anticipated raising $10,000 in personal contributions and $10,000-$15,000 in grants during the first year.  OHRA could receive funds from The Ford Family Foundation who provided funding for seven similar facilities in Siskiyou County.  Additionally, the Trinity Episcopal Church would have funds for the program after the first year of operation.  Initially he thought OHRA could raise $20,000-$30,000 this year and at the minimum double the amount the following year.  He confirmed renting space from the parsonage was $1,300 per month.  Ms. Schad and Mr. Madsen thought both organizations could combine efforts and work together with possible constraints regarding the grant allocation. 
For the Access proposal Ms. Schad looked at what could happen over a two year period that included a part time staff person, expenses related to the mobile unit, bus pass purchases and food.  The administrative fee covered central services.
Councilor Lemhouse left the meeting at 6:25 p.m.
Ms. Schad addressed making services to the homeless perpetually self sustaining and explained she had not seen anyone in the US achieve that.  Long-term fiscal support ebbed and flowed regarding public and private donations.  It was the faith communities that made it work.  She could not see funding a site in 3-5 years because of the funding difficulties.  If the mobile unit worked, there was a possibility of cost sharing with other communities.
Mr. Madsen agreed with Ms. Schadís comments but did not think it applied to Ashland.  He thought OHRA could raise funds and receive grants to operate for two years and purchase a facility.  He went on to explain the process for hiring volunteers included criminal background and credit checks.  Community Works would train the first twelve volunteers.  OHRA would measure outcomes by documenting how many people they housed, used shower and laundry services, received clothing and how many people were progressing out of homelessness.  He anticipated serving 60-70 individuals per month.
Ms. Schad explained the mobile outreach vehicle currently hosted food pantries twice a week in Eagle Point and Medford.  The truck provided food distribution, had laptops, a satellite phone, awnings, tables and chairs.  It did not have a toilet. Access envisioned parking near buildings with public restrooms.
Meeting adjourned at 6:39 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder

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