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Agendas and Minutes

Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee (View All)

Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
 Minutes July 26, 2018
Commissioner 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 OR 97520.
Commissioners Present: Council Liaison
Tom Gunderson Jackie Bachman
Rich Rohde  
Erin Crowley SOU Liaison
Erica Franks  
Heidi Parker  
Gina DuQuenne Staff Present:
Absent: Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Linda Reppond Carolyn Schwendener
Sue Crader  
Franks/Crowley m/s to approve the minutes of the June 28, 2018 regular Commission meeting with two spelling corrections.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed.
Mr. John Limb from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rogue Valley gave an update on the overnight parking program at that Church.  The Church offers a place to park from 8:00 pm to 9:00 am.  The Church also provides a porta potty, garbage bin and free Wi-Fi.  The Church office is open from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm Monday through Friday and everyone is welcome to come in to use the bathroom, have a cup of coffee and sometimes even a donut. At this time the Church only has three parking spots available but Mr. Limb is hoping to convince the board to use more spots.  The advantage however is that with less people they are less likely to have conflict issues.  So far the experience has been good, acknowledged Mr. Limb.  There has been no litter or garbage left, no complaints from neighbors and everyone has behaved themselves.
Mr. Limb explained the problem is they are flying under the radar. In the City of Ashland, it is illegal to park on private property for the purpose of camping.  Their idea is to expand the program to other churches. They have been invited to do a presentation at four other Churches, Temple Emek Shalom, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Grace Point Nazarene and the First United Methodist. The Friends Church is also interested but at this time they do not have any place to park.  What would help, expressed Mr. Limb, is if we had an ordinance in place to present to the other churches this might encourage them to be supportive of joining the program. 
The Church has worked on making the ordinance simpler and more defined.  Mr. Limb will email the updated Ordinance as well as the Eugene Ordinance to Reid who will forward it to the Commissioners.  The hope, stressed Mr. Limb is that with the support of this Commission the City Council would pass the Ordinance.  Reid reminded the Commissioners of the proper process of how to approach this. It is Council who needs to direct staff first to draft an Ordinance.   Perhaps first we should talk with the Mayor and get it on a Study Session, suggested Reid.  Once the Council is open to hearing about it we would then support it as a Commission. 
It was the consensus of the Commission to support the overnight parking program to move forward.  Reid and Council Liaison Bachman were directed to move it forward.  Reid will provide a timeline for Bachman reviewing the background and all the work that has gone into this program. It was also suggested that any Commissioner who would like to reach out to the other Councilors in support of this program should do so.
Audience member, Linda O’Donnell, introduced herself.  Ms. O’Donnell is interested in the issues this Commission addresses and was present to observe the meeting. 

Parker explained this agenda item came from the Jackson County Homeless Task Force meeting held in Central Point.  At that meeting a number of developers who came expressed their desire to build affordable housing but the land is so expensive it makes it difficult to do.  It was suggested that if the Communities could help developers purchase land or be a partner with them it might be a possibility.  Parker informed the developers about the Housing Trust Fund which could be used for this purpose.  We are in such a crisis here and housing is so expensive we need to discuss land banking as a City issue, emphasized Parker.  The City is currently purchasing property and it would be a good idea for the City to designate some of that land for affordable housing.
Reid acknowledged the City has land banked in the past in a variety of ways.  The benefit of the Housing Trust Fund is that we can help buy down the cost of the property. 
Reid suggested that the Commission update the brochures that were put together last year for the Affordable Housing Bus Tour.  Highlight all the programs and incentives the City provides and supply these brochures to the developers.  Reid went on to say that a Regional Housing Strategy is being developed by ECONorthwest. She will bring this document to the next meeting to discuss the strategies that are being recommended for our Community. 
Rohde mentioned a Land Banking Bill that passed the Legislation allowing Cities to invest in housing without using their own money but rather the States.  This Bill is still in process and most likely the money won’t be available until next year.  Rohde went on to say that in November we will be voting on a Bill which will allow Cities to float bonds for Affordable Housing.  It will allow Cities to use the Bonding for a non-profit to develop the land.
The Commission called attention to the fact that the Ashland School District appears to own a large quantity of land which possibly could be used for workforce housing.  Parker would like to encourage people in our own Community to use some of the excess land they own to build the concept of affordable Housing.  The Commission would like to invite Rob Justus to our valley to give a presentation on developing Affordable Housing. Franks will speak with Michelle Glass from Rogue Action Institute about becoming a partner in the forum and developer outreach activities.
Reid will bring to next month’s meeting the brochure for the Commission to help redesign.
The Commission concluded by saying the City needs to make a commitment to Land Banking either on City owned land or with Affordable Housing Developers.  Why do we do this if there is no action to follow through? Reid reminded the Commission that they will be looking at the Ashland Regional Plan Housing Strategies next month and will be making recommendations on things actionable and what can be implemented now.  Reid will try to send the document out before next month’s meeting. 
Reid was able to reserve the Gresham room at the Ashland Public Library for Thursday October 25th from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  That meeting will be just for applicants not the general public.  It was decided by the subcommittee to have listening sessions with the general public. The Commissioners will send any survey suggestions or corrections to Reid and she will update it and bring it back to next month’s meeting.  The listening sessions will target seniors, students and families.  Some suggested places to go for the interviews would be the YMCA, Senior Center, Southern Oregon University, Family Fest at the Methodist Church, Snowberry Apartments, Ashland foodbank, Uncle Foods Diner and the Library.   It was also suggested to put the survey on the City Website and in the newspaper. Putting a drop box for the surveys in the lobby of the Community Development building is a possibility. 
Parker reported they are making progress and having a single site building has some promise. There are however a lot of unknowns for the buildings because it involves the State Building Codes. The Presbyterian Church made the decision they cannot be the single site but they have offered to do three nights a week with a few conditions one of which is the installation of sprinklers.  Parker was asked if a building was not found is it possible to meet the conditions of the Presbyterian Church.  Parker answered that it would be too much of a financial burden for only three nights a week. 
The Commission was impressed with the amount of work and effort that has gone into this endeavor but the obstacles have been tremendous.  It might have to be a multi-tiered approach, stated Bachman, with a variety of options, yurts, tents, warming centers. 
Reid distributed a corrected spread sheet for the CDBG grant money.  See exhibit A at the end of the minutes.
Reid reported there is currently around $85,000 in CDBG not including the grant request from the Fire Department.
The request from the Fire Department is $50,000 to assist eligible seniors and persons with disabilities to make safety and or accessibility modifications to their residences. This amount will come out of the $85,000 leaving a balance of $35,000.  This is going to City Council at their August 7, 2018 meeting. 
Council Liaison Report – Bachman reported that the Oregon League of Cities Board of Directors has set six legislative priorities for the 2019 session.  The City Council was asked to pick their top four priorities from the list but the Council actually choose all six (EIGHT) Bachman pointed out that the Commission needs to be aware that mental health money may be cut back next year.  Gunderson explained that the primary funding for health care for low income people is Medicare money which comes through Jackson Care Connect and AllCare.  Gunderson went on to say the municipal funds aren’t used directly for mental health service, even though police and ancillary City services do address mental health issues, but aren’t real mental health providersBachman announced that Isleen Glatt is the new Senior Services Superintendent and Kelly Madding is the new City Administrator.  Bachman reminded the Commissioners to learn about the proposed new Wildfire Mitigation Ordinance.  It is a concern that not everyone in the Community understands what the ordinance actually says. 
Staff Liaison Report – Reid said the Veterans Benefit Expo is happening on Saturday July 28th from 9:00am to 3:00pm.  This is a one stop shop for veterans.  Reid announced Neighborhood Works Umpqua is looking for board members if anyone in this group is interested in joining.  Check out their website and see all the things they do, said Reid.  They are a great organization and a developer of Affordable Housing. 
Announcement – Rhode announced the Southern Oregon Inter Faith Social Justice Coalition is sponsoring a Faith Summit on August 15th at the Methodist Church of Ashland from 4:00pm to 8:30 pm.  The Keynote speaker is Rev. Dan Bryan.  See exhibit B at the end of the minutes.  Everyone is welcome to attend they just ask if you register online ahead of time. 
Housing and Human Services Commission Regular Meeting – 4:30-6:30 PM; August 23, 2018, at 51 Winburn Way.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener 


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