Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes January 28, 2016
Chair Josh Boettiger 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
Joshua Boettiger Pam Marsh, arrived at 5:15
Rich Rohde  
Heidi Parker  SOU Liaison
Sue Crader Megan Mercier
Tom Gunderson  
Coriann Matthews arrived at 4:45 Staff Present:
  Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Commissioners Absent: Carolyn Schwendener, Administrative Assistant
Tom Buechele  
Gina DuQuenne  

Crader/Rhode m/s to approve the minutes of the November 19, 2015 Housing and Human Services Commission meeting with two corrections.  Voice Vote: All ayes, minutes were approved with corrections.
Brandon Goldman, 827 Leonard Street Ashland, introduced himself. Although Mr. Goldman works for the Community Development Department he was speaking as a citizen of Ashland. One of the 2016 Housing and Human Services Commission goals was the potential of doing resource bucks. Excited about this idea Mr. Goldman did research and found a similar program has been run in the City of Portland with a group called, Sanctity of Hope.  The idea is that Ashland would develop an alternative form of currency which would be given to a homeless person for basic needs with no worry that the donation would be spent on alcohol or drugs. Coins would be purchased from sponsoring non-profits such as the Chamber of Commerce, local hotels and Oregon Shakespeare.  An example is; if the coins had a value of $1.00 individuals could purchase them for $1.25 a piece knowing that twenty percent of that purchase would go towards a shelter fund, a downtown streets program or whatever program was identified for the use of the money. The coins could be redeemed at local participating businesses.  In order to make this program work it would require buy in from participating businesses as well as bed and breakfasts and hotels to help inform tourist and residences about the program. If any work is done by this Commission in regards to this program Mr. Goldman would like to volunteer his efforts to help.  See exhibit A
The Commissioners were very excited about this program.
Daniel Murphy, 19 Granite Street Ashland, introduced himself.  Mr. Murphy presented an idea that he is calling “Ashland Connects” connecting with people and connecting those people with resources.  The idea is that trained volunteers on the street would engage visitors in order to connect them to resources they might need.  Mr. Murphy acknowledged that Ashland is a welcoming, inclusive and a hospitable Community.  Mr. Murphy stated that people of all socioeconomic strata and circumstances appreciate respect based encounters and support.  This encounter would contribute to a sense of belonging and connectedness and improve relationships with people on the streets in order to be part of an overall strategy to address the humanitarian and behavioral aspects of people on the streets.  Mr. Murphy said in order to make this program work we would need to recruit, train, deploy, debrief and support.  Mr. Murphy would be willing to volunteer his time if this program goes forward. See exhibit B
The Commissioners were very enthusiastic about this program as well. 
Students from the Siskiyou newspaper at Southern Oregon University were present for the discussion on Student Fair Housing review and recommendations.
Amy Stewart introduced herself mentioning she might be interested in the vacancy on this Commission. 
SOU liaison Megan Mercier gave an overview of the student’s recommendations regarding the Student and Fair Housing Ordinance. Their group determined it would be more beneficial to do an overall review of the ordinance rather than just what was best for students.  Because “What is best for the entire Community is also best for students,” stated Mercier. 
The recommendations included every class that isn’t currently protected in Ashland but is protected in other communities throughout Oregon.  The group also recommended clarifying the language in the existing municipal code surrounding “Source of Income” to include student aid. 
Mercier commented they were directed from Council to do a survey with the students.  That survey was done and the results were previously given to the Commission but Mercier can provide them again if necessary.  Mercier acknowledged they attempted to do a survey with property management companies but was not successful. The Council asked the group to think about unintended consequences to any of the suggested code changes. Mercier determined two unintended consequences might be; more stimulation to the economy and better maintained units.  Reid announced that the Commission is on the Council look ahead for the March 14, 2016 Study Session. The Commissioners discussed changes they wanted made to the ordinance and Reid will draft a memo and bring to next month’s meeting.  It was suggested that the memo be sent to Louise Dix for her review and possible support of the ordinance.  The draft will go to the City Attorney for review, comments and changes before it goes to Council. 
Mercier stated SOU had a Fair Housing Kick off meeting this last week in order to learn more about students who have recently experienced student discrimination.  Mercier has put together a power point training on Oregon tenant laws. It was suggested that she put her presentation on the web so the Commissioners could watch it.
The Commissioners reviewed their 2016 goals from their December 15, 2015 retreat.  The Commission needs to schedule a time to go before the City Council in order to discuss the Housing Trust Fund permanent funding source.  Rohde stated he has not received the numbers from Finance Director Lee Tuneberg for the food and beverage tax.  Before the Commissioners can re-review the document of City funding it needs to include this tax though Mr. Tuneberg commented it will be hard to utilize any of that money.  Council liaison Marsh agreed it’s going to be difficult to find a permanent source of income with the current budget as that money is already spoken for.  Marsh reminded the Commissioners that the use of the food and beverage tax has already been determined by the voters and though it could be changed without another vote she doesn’t anticipate that happening.  (Four percent goes to pay off the sewer treatment plan and one percent goes to the purchase or maintenance of open space)
The Commission discussed the idea of possibly using the new proposed marijuana tax. Marsh suggested that the Commission present a strong strategic plan to the Council explaining the need for the use of those funds.  The proposal of a marijuana tax first has to be put on the ballet in November before it will be implemented.  Crader volunteered to work with Rohde on the Housing Trust Fund after March 1, 2016 when she will have more available time. 
Crader reported that the donation boxes downtown have been vandalized and the program itself has not been successful.  There have been a lot of frustration from the downtown businesses and it was suggested to have an alternative money source in order to provide resources for the homeless to help reduce the pan handling.  Marsh acknowledged there are other groups in our community that are interested in helping reduce the homelessness in Ashland, i.e.; Lodging Association, Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Streets.    Marsh suggested that the groups come together to share their ideas.  She will pursue that. Marsh stated that it’s important for the Community to see people on the streets trying to improve their situation.  The Community will get behind a hand up rather than a hand out, stated Marsh.
The Commissioners discussed the social service grant process evaluation form and what changes they would like to see. It was the decision of the commission that to change the form midterm would not be appropriate. Changing the grant application for the next process would be more appropriate giving the applicant’s time to prepare.    The question was proposed “What is the valuable information for us to know from these evaluations?”   It was encouraged to share this information in a report to the City Council.  How are we meeting the needs of the community?  Reid will put together a letter explaining that the City will now be requiring a mid-cycle report from the recipients.  She will bring it back to next month’s meeting.
Rohde reported that rental rates in Ashland are at crisis proportion.  Rohde would like to address this problem by proposing that the Housing and Human Services Commission be a sponsor or co-sponsor of an affordable housing forum sometime in mid-March.  The Council has already sent a letter in support of inclusionary zoning to Salem.  See exhibit C.  Suggested holding a meeting at the Gresham room at the Library, the Community Development building or a local Church.  Rohde stated the Commission would invite the public as well as City Council to discuss what they see as issues surrounding rentals and affordable housing in Ashland.  Reid commented that before the Commission could sponsor an event they would need to get direction from the City Council.  Reid will check and see what the process might be to make this happen. 
Council Report – Marsh reported that on Tuesday’s agenda the Council will be looking at putting a marijuana tax on the ballot.  It does not appear that there would be designated expenditures for the money.   The Council has been discussing topics such as public art, parking, and plastic bag bans. There will be a discussion of the downtown behavior problems at the Monday night Study Session.  The Community concern is regarding behavior issues rather than homeless issues. 
SOU – Megan has put together a training on Oregon tenant law and renter’s rights and responsibilities.  She is hoping to provide education with the presentation to students. 
Staff - Reid said that this week was the point in time homeless count. Results won’t be available for a while but when they are Reid will share locally.  This year the Community Connect homeless outreach event will take place at the Jackson County Expo because the Medford Armory is undergoing renovations.  The location at the expo could create a transportation issue but members of the planning committee are working on solutions. 
Quorum Check:
Next Housing Commission Meeting – 4:30-6:30 PM; February 25, 2016 4:30-6:30 in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development & Engineering Department located at 51 Winburn Way.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:35 p.m. respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

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