Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes May 26, 2016
Chair 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
Tom Gunderson Pam Marsh
Rich Rhode  
Heidi Parker SOU Liaison
Sue Crader Leo McCaffrey
Sharon Harris  
Tom Buechele Staff Present:
Joshua Boettiger Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Commissioners Absent: Carolyn Schwendener, Staff secretary
Gina DuQuenne  

Parker/Crader m/s to approve the minutes of the April 28, 2016 Housing and Human Services Commission meeting with some grammatical corrections.  Voice Vote: All ayes, minutes were approved with corrections.
Debbie Newschander, long term Ashland resident, was present to observe the meeting.  She has an interest in transitional housing. 
Commissioner Rhode gave an update. So far there have been two meetings with representatives from the H&HSC, Oregon Action, and Rogue Valley Interfaith Coalition for Social Justice.  This group of individuals have been working on the upcoming Housing Crisis Forum.  Rhode announced the forum is scheduled for Wednesday August 10th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Ashland Public Library.  There will be three breakout sessions; rental prices (problems and solutions) funding the Housing Trust Fund (solutions) and homeless solutions.  The goal of the forum is not just to have a sounding board but arriving at solutions we can work with, declared Rhode. 
Rhode brought attention to the Commissioners that Oregon Action received a significant grant from Meyer Memorial Trust for affordable housing.  They are using some of that money to do a housing survey.  The group will bring back the findings from the survey to the forum.  The next Housing Crisis Forum meeting is scheduled for Wednesday June 1st at 1:00 pm at the Community Room at Pony Espresso in Washington Bank.  (The venue still needs to be confirmed)
Regarding the determination of the distribution of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds the Commission asked the following questions of the Council “Is our input needed or necessary? Are we a necessary part of the process?  How does the Council look at the information we present and the recommendations we make?  How do we fit in the process?”
Councilor Marsh stated from her point of view the information this Commission provides is extremely helpful.  The
Council is set up for multiple levels of review with almost everything that goes on in the City.  That doesn’t mean however, emphasized Marsh that the Council isn’t going to review and question the recommendation but they always read the comments and always are going to look at what the Commission thought and recommended.  You are always molding that final result in a significant way, stated Marsh.  We have been successful in the past and recommendations have generally stayed intact.
The Commissioners inquired as to why the Mayor had a meeting with different groups within the Community but failed to invite the Housing Commission.  Reid acknowledged that she was invited to the meeting but was not expressly invited for the purpose of representing the H&HSC. Marsh commented it was probably just an oversight and apologized that Boettiger was not notified when Reid was. 
Harris asked Marsh if she could explain the Council’s process in which they award the CDBG funds as well as the Liaison’s role in that process.  Marsh explained the Council receives a packet prior to the meeting which includes the applications, the H&HS Commission’s recommendations, staff’s recommendations and minutes from this Commission’s meeting.  The Commissioners present their recommendation at a Council meeting allowing the Council to ask staff questions.  Marsh suggested that the Council had more of an inclination to fund deeply and this Commission was more interested in spreading the wealth.  Marsh acknowledged it is her duty to keep the Council well informed what is happening at the meetings but not necessarily to advocate for their position.
Crader thanked Marsh for her response.  Because this Commission knows the agencies involved in the process we are probably more passionate about the outcome and sometimes it’s easy for us to forget and overlook the many decisions that come before the Council, stressed Crader.
The Commissioners discussed their annual goals and priorities.  Reid commented that things are moving forward in the Community not just with the Commission.  The Chamber as well as different groups in town are recognizing the Community needs and issues and are creating a community dialog.  The Commissioners agreed that each of the goals require a subcommittee to work on them.  It was determined that the first priority to work on is the addition of a public porta-potty.  The Commissioners who will be on the subcommittee are; Parker, Boettiger, Buechele and Harris. 
Buechele called attention to a local program entitled Laundry Love. On the first Saturday of each month Henry’s Laundromat is open to the public for their use.  It is sponsored by the Unitarian Church.  The organization has recently received a $500.00 grant from the United Way. 
The Commissioners commented about the RVTD levy passing and how this could help support the commission’s goal of encouraging diversity within the City.  The Commission asked if a representative from RVTD could come to the commission to discuss how the commission could help support their efforts.
Marsh mentioned the Chamber of Commerce is implementing a program called “Change with a Purpose.”  The program encourages tourist and locals to go online and give to one of several organizations.  There is a small handout given through the Lodging Association to Shakespeare guests.
Harris inquired about what was the next step with the Housing Trust Fund.  The Commission explained they have done their job and it is now in the Council’s hands.  Marsh said the Council now looks at what sources are available for that funding.  A possible excise tax on new construction is being discussed.  The Food and Beverage tax was implemented through a vote of the people.  Currently that money is designated for the sewage treatment plant and open space for Parks.  If the money is requested to be used in a different area it will have to go back to the voters.  Public Works Department is interested in using some of the money for Street maintenance. 
SOU Liaison McCaffrey reported the SOU students attended three or four Ad Hoc meetings regarding the rental deposit program and unfortunately came to the conclusion that the student reserve fund wasn’t feasible.  An option they are looking at is creating a position within the Student Life office who can help students find off campus housing.  The Housing Department of SOU loved the idea.  Both SOU staff and ASSOU student government is working together to try and create this position.  It is required that freshman going to SOU live on campus the first year requiring more juniors and seniors to start moving off of campus to free up space.  McCaffrey stated that SOU would love to see a website created for rental spaces in Ashland and have it maintained by the City.  The Commission agreed that SOU needs to step up to the plate, this isn’t necessarily a problem that the Community can solve.
Buechele/Rhode m/s to nominate Boettiger as Chair for another year.  After a discussion Buechele amended his motion to add Rhode as Vice Chair.  Crader seconded the amendment.  Voice Vote:  All ayes, motion passed.   
Council - Marsh reported that the Council will be having goal setting meetings over the next six weeks and housing issues will be on the list of things to be looking at.  Other topics will be food and beverage tax, public safety personnel and what will we be doing about the streets.  There is a new mural going up on Guanajuato Way. The mural is being painted by an artist from Guanajuato and contains scenes from that town.  The land partition at Clay Street is moving forward.  The parcel will provide around seventeen units of affordable housing and the City is In the process of selling it to the Housing Authority of Jackson County.
Staff – Reid attended the project Community Connect this last month.  This year it was held at a new location, the Jackson County Expo.  It was a great success serving over 500 people.  Reid commented it seemed like they had more community members and veterans then in past years. 
Quorum Check – Boettiger, Crader and possibly Buechele will be absent at next month’s meeting
Agenda Items - Guests speakers – Laundry Love and RVTD. Update on Housing Crisis Forum
Future Agenda items:  Invite the Chamber of Commerce and maybe someone from Planning Commission to discuss zoning (related to tiny houses)
Next Housing Commission Meeting – 4:30-6:30 PM; June 23, 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 6:00 p.m. respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener


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