Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes March 23, 2017
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
Sue Crader Dennis Slattery, absent
Rich Rohde  
Joshua Boettiger SOU Liaison
Tom Gunderson  
Sharon Harris  
Michelle Linley Staff Present:
Heidi Parker Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Gina DuQuenne Carolyn Schwendener, Clerk
Parker/Rohde m/s to approve the minutes of the February 23, 2017 Housing and Human Services Commission regular meeting. Voice Vote: All Ayes, minutes were approved as presented.
No one present spoke.
Chair Boettiger explained to the applicants they would each be given five minutes for their presentations. Prior to the meeting the applicants were emailed four questions and were asked to address the questions in their presentation if possible.  The questions were. 
  1. What should we know about your project/activity that you weren’t able to address in the application?
  2. What will you do if you do not get this funding?
  3. What was the rationale for the amount of funding your organization has requested?
  4. If you have received Social Service grant funding from the City of Ashland in the previous grant cycle, please come prepared to share Ashland specific outcome date from prior years’ activities.
    The presentations followed.
    St. Vincent de Paul – Charlotte and Alice, volunteers from St. Vincent de Paul presented. Charlotte expressed their gratitude to the City and Commission for what they do in our Community not just the grant money but the planning and making the prevention of homelessness a goal.
                Charlotte confirmed that the monies are being spent primarily for rent in order to prevent homelessness, which is their main focus. The past grant monies have been utilized for this but we have had a break through and are able to help bring people into homes not just prevent them from eviction, stated Charlotte.     
                Without the money from both grants we could probably still help pay rents but could not actually see people get into housing, explained Alice.  With the increases in rent and deposits it would curtail our ability to do that.  There has been a twenty percent increase in expenditures over the last four years and we have spent our reserve monies down, said Alice.  The amount of grant money needed to bring someone from homeless to housing is $370.00 per person.  St. Vincent de Paul matches that amount of money and sometimes go beyond that.  The more money we have the more people we can help.
    Commissioner’s questions:
    Commissioner Linley remarked when St. Vincent de Paul pays rent for a residence there is no transparency between the landlords and St. Vincent de Paul.  In my experience, stated Linley when an eviction is necessary due to drugs, abetting a felony, child protective services, etc. and St. Vincent paid for their rent it stops us from doing a proper eviction.  Would it be possible asked Linley to sign something that would give transparency to the landlords? 
    Charlotte acknowledged this is very unfortunate and they would explore ways to fix that problem.
    Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice – Jason and Vanessa Hauck presented.  Because the shelter program will be closing for the summer months and realizing a lot of the people on the streets depend on that program for food, we would like to provide that food for them, said Mr. Hauck.  Also with the closing of the free box we are providing clothing and other resources for people, haircuts, medical needs, gas vouchers, etc.  We work on skill building activities recognizing street people have a lot of free time and we would like to find a way to help them constructively fill that time, conveyed Mr. Hauck.
                Without the grant money we would continue the work but the grant means we can expand our services and make much more of an impact, remarked Vanessa.  We identify what the needs are and provide opportunities for getting people off the streets. 
    Commissioner’s questions: 
    What percentage of the $20,000 would go to salaries and what percentage goes to services?
    The total budget is $30,000, $20,000 of which is being requested.  $14,000 is for salaries and the rest would go towards goods and services. 
    Rogue Valley Council of Governments (Meals on Wheels) – Evelyn Kinsella program manager for Food and Friends and the senior program Meals on Wheels in Jackson and Josephine counties presented.  This is a program where meals are delivered by volunteers to homebound clients.  The need for home delivered meals has gone up over twelve percent the last few years and we are looking at an increase again this year, explained Ms. Kinsella.  She also pointed out that a misconception in the Rogue Valley is that everyone who lives in Ashland has money.  This is not the case.  Those clients needing the service are lower income people.
                Like other organizations we use grants to leverage for more money, stated Ms. Kinsella.  The leveraging for us is that we are asking the same amount of grant money from every other jurisdiction of a similar size.  We fall short about $1.40 a meal.  We do fund raising for half of that amount and ask the local jurisdictions to provide the funds for the other half.
                Our last grant we received $3,700 and every single penny of that went to the cost of the meal.  Costs have gone up and there has been a decrease in donations.  Ms. Kinsella explained they do not charge their clients but ask for a donation they can comfortably afford.  Generally speaking, senior’s incomes have lowered and expenses have increased.  We have seen a decrease of thirty-three percent in what people can give for the cost of the meals.
    Commissioner’s questions:
    How many employees do you have?
    We provide meals for two counties, sixteen meal sites and 23,000 meals a year and have three staff in the office.  We have a total of 9.7 FTE because of part time meal site coordinators. 
    How many of your staff live in Ashland?
    All of our volunteers are from Ashland.  Our staff live anywhere from Medford to Central Point.  The Ashland coordinator lives in Ashland.
    Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland – OHRA Board Secretary Montye Male and OHRA Board Treasurer Ken Gudger presented.  We provide many essential services in the Community, mail boxes, telephone, internet access, transportation, emergency shelter, birth certificate, personal identification, legal counseling, mental health counseling, SNAP benefits, showers & laundry navigation help, etc.  We are a one stop shopping, bricks and mortar emphasized Mr. Male.  Mr. Male showed the alignment between the Social Services Strategic Priorities and OHRA program and Services bringing attention to the transportation services and services for at risk youth. 
                With previous grant money we have been able to protect about seventy families a year from losing their homes.  We assist about thirty people per year to find temporary jobs and about twenty people per year to find permanent employment. 
                Mr. Male explained the funding rationale is for sustainability of income.  Individual and organizational charitable gifts total two hundred sixty-two donors.  Grants from non-profit foundations total nine and the rest is grants from the City of Ashland. We are more successful at getting grants and funding for direct costs and we rely on social service grant monies for our base salaries and facilities.  Every dollar we would lose of the social services grant would come out of direct costs and fewer services we could provide. 
    Maslow Project – Mary Ferrell, Director and founder of the Maslow Project and Cheyenne Nichols, Ashland School District Case Manager, presented. 
                The main challenge is the lack of affordable housing, commented Ms. Ferrell.  We work very cooperatively with any Community partner to help our families and our youth achieve their goals whether educational or housing.  We are one of the only organizations whose focus is specifically on school age youth, said Ms. Ferrell.  We provide kids the opportunity to stay in school, complete their education and enter the workforce and transition into permanent housing. 
                We use the funding from both the social service grant and the Community Development Block Grant for our staffing.  The money provides about fifty percent of the cost of the salaries.  The other fifty percent is covered by Community donations from businesses, churches, individuals and civic organizations. 
                If we do not receive our full request or if CDBG ceases to exist we have confidence the Community will help us, however all of our programs would potentially be affected.  We have a strong contingency plan where our entire agency would scale back so that no particular community would be cut off.  Ms. Nichols expressed her gratefulness for the support they have previously received from the City of Ashland.
    Commissioner’s questions:
    Is the Ashland case manager full time?
    Two different staff people provide services to each individual student making it a full time position.  Each student sees a Family advocate and a case manager who work together as a team. 
    Do you receive any funds from the Ashland School District?
    Yes, we received $5,000 from the Ashland School general fund and $4,500 from a Federal Fund designated for homeless services for public schools.
    Jackson County SART – Executive Director Susan Moen presented.  Ms. Moen explained they have been doing violence prevention classes in the Ashland schools for about ten years, starting in the High School and then moving to the middle school.  At the end of 2015 Senate Bill #856 Aarons Law was passed. This bill is an unfunded mandate that requires all child sex abuse prevention be in every single grade and every single school four times a year.  At this time, we are the only organization who has the curriculum to answer that need. 
                If we do not receive the funding the piece, we would pull back on would be time spent on student engagement and parent engagement.  This would be difficult because we concentrate on prevention.  It might turn out we would need to cut back to some capacity in the schools but we would still have the programs.  Our request for funds is to cover our staffing.
    Commissioner Parker complimented Ms. on her complete application.  It was very thorough. 
    First Presbyterian Church of Ashland – Karen Amarotico the church shelter program coordinator for the last three years presented. 
                The reason we are asking for money is because we are an older structure and when forty or fifty additional people need to use the restrooms it has put a strain on the plumbing, stated Ms. Amarotico.  The money the congregation donates is used to pay the pastor and his secretary.  The shelter program is hosted by church volunteers and those that take care of the plumbing are older and the repairs have been expensive.  The money will be used to help support our building. 
                We have never received funding in the past.  Our money is tight but if we do not receive the funding we will still work to provide the shelter, perhaps maybe doing some fund raisers. 
    Community Works (Dunn House) - Executive Director Barbara Johnson presented the three applications.
                This is the fortieth anniversary of the Dunn House which originated in Ashland, said Ms. Johnson.  We have served thousands and thousands of both women and men throughout the years.  When someone has to flee their home because of violence they are immediately identified by the Federal Government as homeless. Ms. Johnson told the Commission that about eighteen months ago they collaborated with every law enforcement agency in Jackson County to be trained on the Lethality Assessment program.  The program is an immediate first response to anyone who is experiencing domestic violence and law enforcement officer is called.  Law enforcement calls us immediately and we can work right away with that individual.
                Our request for money is about three percent of the entire budget.  We provide twenty-four hour seven days a week onsite service.  The money is for salary for the children and adult advocates.    Without the funding we would continue our direct service however we would use more volunteers, said Ms. Johnson.
    Sexual Assault Victim Services – Ms. Johnson remarked that the rape crisis has been around since the 1970’s.  They help survivors with ongoing services.  It can take years to work through those traumas. 
                Our request is for two percent of the budget to help with providing advocates at the first response.  Last year twenty-one percent of the calls we went out on were from the City of Ashland. 
                Without the requested funds we would use other staff members which would take away from other direct services.
    Commissioner’s questions:
    Your victim’s are allowed to stay thirty days.  What happens to them after that?
    We want to help people become successful so we don’t require that they leave after thirty days.  We try and work with them for a longer period of time. We help them find housing.  We had client who stayed with us over three months.  We do whatever is necessary.
    HelpLine – Ms. Johnson stated that the HelpLine provides a service most communities don’t even have.  You can call the helpline twenty-four hours a day seven days a week for any type of support. Last year they answered over 10,000 calls costing approximately .23 cents a call.  We can only provide that service because of our volunteers, conveyed Ms. Johnson. 
                We are requesting money for the volunteer coordinator, who is also a trainer.  That is the only fulltime employee working there.  Without the funds I will be writing a lot of grants, stressed Ms. Johnson. 
    Commissioner’s questions:
    Why didn’t you just put all three requests together and ask for one total amount of money?
    Ms. Johnson explained that their programs are separated by specific type of need for each client and wanted to emphasize what the unique things their organization has to offer. 
    What percentage of your calls relate to suicide prevention?
    A small amount, less than one percent, answered Ms. Johnson 
    Community Volunteer Network (Foster Grandparent Program) – Becky Snyder presented the two applications.      
                This program provides children with tutoring, nurturing and mentoring from senior volunteers.  The money we are requesting would provide eighty-two percent of the cost of one volunteer.  We have been offering this service for over twenty-four years and without the money we will continue to offer the program.  It would be necessary to look for other sources of income, probably writing more grants and doing more fund raisers.  Historically we have received funding from the City of Ashland though we did not last year.  We asked an amount that would stay at a level with respect to the limited amount of funds you have to offer.
    Commissioner’s questions:
    RSVP of Jackson County is the umbrella in which you work under.  If you don’t receive grants do they help support these programs?
    Yes, they will cover our expenses and then as we build back up our funds we pay them back. They are the sponsoring managerial organization but separately corporate.  They are very kind to us and located within our offices, said Ms. Snyder.  Our goal is to be able to support ourselves.
    Ms. Snyder also commented that she did two separate applications because the programs have to be sent to the Federal Government separately each month.
    RSVP – Ms. Snyder explained this program provides transportation to medical appointments which many people depend on. The requested funding is for staffing.  They service three counties with 4.02 FTE. 
    CASA of Jackson County – Wynona Spivak, Director of program and education for CASA of Jackson County presented.
    What you might not know about CASA, explained Ms. Spivak, is that the guiding light is to find a safe and permanent home for our counties most vulnerable children.  CASA’s are all volunteers.  There are over two hundred volunteers who served over six hundred kids last year in Jackson County and over fifty of those were in Ashland.  The average cost per child for a CASA volunteer to help for one year is $94.00.  That is about $3000.00 lower than the national average, we are very efficient with our resources, said Ms. Spivak.  Since 2015 we have seen a twenty percent increase in the number of children who need care. 
                If we don’t receive the funding, we will serve less children.  We have ten staff members who work with the CASA volunteers and are asking for five percent of the total project budget.  Our overall budget is $96,000 and we are asking for $5,000 from the social service grant money. 
    Center for Nonprofit Legal Services, Inc. – Staff attorney, Joe Fichter presented because Executive Director Deborah Lee was out of town.  Mr. Fichter explained this year’s application is focused on affirmatively furthering fair housing. 
                In the past we did receive funding from the City of Ashland and this year we are hoping with the grant money to be able to expand the number of people we serve in Ashland focusing primarily on the indigent, disabled, and elderly.  We are the only program in Jackson County who has licensed attorneys on staff who provide no cost or low cost services to clienteles.  As others have mentioned tonight we are facing throughout Jackson County a shortage of housing with approximately a two percent vacancy rate.  We provide information about landlord and tenant rights. 
                If we do not receive the funds, it means we will continue to do what we can but we can do more if we have more.  The money we are requesting all goes towards personnel.
    Commissioner’s questions:
    There was no real action plan in your proposal to justify the increase in your funding.  Do you have a plan drawn out?
    As of now we have presented three separate trainings in the City of Medford also we are participating in Project Connect.  We work on getting service providers and client groups together and present our information to them.  We have an outreach plan into the community for tenant rights and fair housing.  We work on putting together a checklist for other nonprofits and work towards developing affordable housing.  A lot of what we do is outreach in the community, confirmed Mr. Fichter. 
    Rose Circle - No one was present to represent Rose Circle
    The Commission thanked all the presenters and their organizations for all the work they are doing in our Community. 
    After the Social Service Grant presentations were finished the Commissioners agreed to hear from the CDBG applicants before making all the recommendations. 
    Both St. Vincent de Paul and the Maslow project already presented during the Social Service Grant process and did not present again. 
    Family Solutions – Fred Feldhaus was present to offer his assistance with any questions the Commissioners might have.  Mr. Feldhaus is the manager of the Psychiatric Day Treatment program located at 1836 Fremont Street in Ashland.  The Psychiatric Day treatment is an intensive program for children with severe emotional and behavioral issues.  They offer individual, group and family therapy, stated Mr. Feldhaus.  These children often have destructive behavior problems.  Mr. Feldhaus has been at this facility for over ten years and acknowledged they have probably replaced almost every single window during that time.  The roof is also in need of repair, when it rains heavily water comes in around the light fixtures. 
                The application if for the replacement of forty-four windows, carpeting in the administration building, counseling and activity center, roof replacement and new gutters.  The building was built in 1974. 
    Commissioner’s questions:
    Did you say you replaced the windows or just repaired them?
    We have replaced them all due to the children breaking them when they get upset.  We’ve tried to replace them with Plexiglas but haven’t been able to do them all.  The windows have also accidently been broken when the kids play ball in the courtyard. 
    Have you explored any State or Federal programs for replacing the windows with energy efficiency one?
    I do not know the answer to that but it is a good idea.  (Mr. Feldhaus was not the person who submitted the application)
    Ashland Tiny House Group – Karen Logan and Linda Reppond presented their application.  Ms. Logan explained this was a preliminary grant for them and put it together very quickly.  Our mission is to encourage, educate and facilitate tiny house buildings and to design and build tiny houses and villages for those in need of housing. Since we submitted for this grant, said Ms. Logan, we began to interview local service organizations for potential candidates for a tiny house village and our findings indicate focusing to serve woman and children and families.  We would however consider any candidate with special priority to those who have established community connections like children in the schools, local jobs and other family members living here. Our intent is to house those who can benefit from the step up of transitional housing and those with the spirit of contribution and would value living in the Community.  In this Community single moms and kids an especially an underserved population.
    Verde and her son Adwin briefly shared their experience from participating in the Community build of a tiny house.  Verde expressed her satisfaction in the feeling of being part of the Community.  The actual building and learning of those life skills she will take with her wherever she goes.   
    Ms. Logan addressed some of the concerns that staff pointed out with their grant application.  Ms. Logan acknowledged they recognize that in order to be eligible for this grant the land proposal would need to be located within the city limits of Ashland and/or in the urban growth boundary.  The land would also need to be designated to provide for the benefit of the population for at least ten years.  There is a lot of support in this valley for a tiny house village, remarked Ms. Logan.  We expect a significant amount of pledge donations especially from Community Care organizations.  We have already obtained a funding commitment from a local philanthropist and real estate developer, Lloyd Haines. 
    We appreciate the encouragement and recommendation from staff to reapply for next year but we would also at this time request that you would consider a re-issue of the RFP, stated Ms. Logan.  If possible maybe just reissuing the capital portion of the grant.  That reissue would allow us to do a formal urgent and serious outreach into the Community for land.  Ms. Logan also mentioned if the City were to recommend and offer them land that would expedite the process.  Because of the urgency of need is why we would ask for reissuance immediately. 
    Ms. Logan concluded by saying “They are a housing first and hand up not a hand out solution.”
    Commissioner’s questions:
    In the places you identified how fare along have you go with talking with them?
    We have only proposed one piece of property that really doesn’t qualify.  That is why we are asking for a reissuance of the RFP so we have more time to be able to find land.
    The Commission asked Reid “If the land were outside of Ashland could CDBG funds be used to build the tiny houses that would then be placed on land outside the City limits?”
    No, replied Reid, that is not an allowable use.  We can only use our CDBG funds for our jurisdiction. Reid also explained that in prior years Habitat for Humanity was funded for their homeowner rehabilitation program but they were not able to find enough home owners who wanted to participate in the program.  They have often looked for land in our community to build on and have not been successful, reminded Reid. 
    The following motion and discussion was made pertaining to the Community Development Block Grant money.
    Rohde/Gunderson m/s to accept the staff recommendation for the Community Development Block Grant funds. 
    (Family Solutions application) Commissioner Harris was concerned about the cost of the window replacements and recommended giving them a portion of the money requested but commented there is other money available for doing window replacement for energy savings. Would have liked to see them explore some options that are available, said Harris. Reid acknowledged this is a good point but the applicant did get bids which is all that is required.  Perhaps the contractors did include that energy saving windows in their bid and the invoice just didn’t reflect that, stated Reid.    An energy audit might be something they could look in to. 
    Reid will ask the applicant if they can get an energy audit and see what available tax credits are available for whatever windows they are choosing. They could draw down less money.  Even if we award them the full amount they could use less, said Reid.   CDBG is a reimbursement program. 
    Harris pointed out that the mentality is if someone asks for the money we just give it to them so we don’t lose it when I think there is a reasonable process for reissuing an RFP to see if we get more applications for other projects the money might be better spent.  Reid reminded Harris they are ready to do this project now spend it now rather than holding off waiting for an energy efficiency bid when another project might not come forward. 
    We would like to make a commitment as a Commission to explore the possibility of reissuing a Request for proposal in the future.    Discuss this at next month’s meeting. 
    Voice Vote:  All Ayes. 
    After the CDBG discussion the Commissioners discussed the Social Service Grant applications and disbursement of the money.
    Prior to this evenings meeting the Commissioners had entered their recommended funding amounts into a spreadsheet. The total Social Service Grant money to be disbursed is $135,000 and when the spreadsheets were averaged together the total came to $138, 900 due to a flaw in the formula.
    Rohde suggested that they take the difference of $3,900 and divide it by the number of applicants and get a percentage deducting each applicant’s funding by that percentage.  Another option he suggested was each Commissioner explain what they like about each applicant and make their proposal.  This option however might take too much time.
    Parker acknowledged that there were only five Commissioners entries into the spreadsheet, two were missing. Linley, Du Quenne and Harris did not do a spreadsheet.  Linley commented she didn’t do the spreadsheet because this was her first year on the commission and she wanted to take the advice of the experienced Commissioners. 
    Harris asked if anyone had a change of heart after hearing the presentations.  The decision was made to quickly go around the room and let each Commissioner make any changes to prior recommendations.
    Gunderson’s spreadsheet calculated correctly totaling $135,000 so didn’t find it necessary to change his recommendations. Gunderson did comment that if we deduct each applicant by the same percentage (approximately two percent) it adversely will impact lower scores.
    Linley commented to keep in mind that no one was present for Rose Circle and she inquired if The Center for Non-profit Legal Services (CNPLS) can take advantage of Fair Housing Training from the Fair Housing Council of Oregon.  
    Crader suggested reducing the CNPLS by the shortfall of $3,500.
    DuQuenne suggested reducing the amount of money dedicated to the Community Volunteers Foster Grandparent Program.   Parker acknowledged that the program is under the umbrella organization of the Rogue Valley Manor Services and they probably have other resources to pull from. 
    Harris asked if in the interest of time can we just go around the table and throw your numbers out without a discussion. Boettiger replied that they could continue going around the room as they were almost done.
     Gunderson commented that two applicants asked for a small amount of money, The First Presbyterian Church and the Foster Grandparent program.  Gunderson would like to increase their funding to $1,000 each.  Seems like an insult said Gunderson to give someone that small amount of money.
    Parked said we cannot ignore the CDBG funds being awarded.  With both the Social Service Grant money and the CDBG funds St. Vincent de Paul will be receiving quite a bit.    OHRA didn’t get CDBG funds so I would suggest increasing their amount and decreasing St. Vincent de Paul’s amount and leaving Maslow as recommended.
    Boettiger was comfortable moving OHRA up to $40,000 and the Foster Grandparent Program to $1,000 and decreasing St Vincent de Paul and Rose Circle a little bit. 
    Reid entered the new numbers into the spreadsheet and read them back to the Commissioners.  See exhibit A at the end of the minutes.
    Rohde moved to accept the proposed recommendations noting that the allocation was an average of each participating Commissioners suggested allocation with adjustments based upon the applicant’s presentations.   
    Parker seconded.  Voice Vote:  All ayes, motion passed unanimously. 
    Quorum Check – Everyone should be present
    Next Housing and Human Services Regular Commission Meeting – April 27, 2017 4:30-6:30 PM in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development & Engineering Department located at 51 Winburn Way.
    The meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.
    Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener



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