Wednesday, February 26, 2020

SHA Targeting Outreach on Downtown

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston


SHA Admin Nicole Utz (pronounced "Yoots")
Salem's Homeless Rental Assistance Program (HRAP) will be able to pay for case managers and up its outreach game downtown, thanks to recent grants from Willamette Valley Community Health (formerly the regional CCO) and two local physicians.  

HRAP case managers currently are covered by a two-year grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust that ends in a few months.

Salem Housing Authority (SHA) Administrator Nicole Utz (pronounced "Yoots") told the Salem Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Monday night that she intends to use about $100,000 from the WVCH grant to hire a "housing navigator" to "fill the gap between current [HRAP] case management and those who need additional services on the street."  

The position also will be working with Lucy Briseno, outreach coordinator with The ARCHES Project, to conduct "targeted outreach" to roughly 70 individuals known to be living in Salem's downtown core (Union Street NE (north), High Street NE (east), Ferry Street NE (south), and Front Street NE (west) -- see Riverfront Downtown Urban Renewal Plan at 27).  Over the past month or so, SHA and ARCHES staff compiled a by-name list of those individuals ("preference list") as part of the area's Built for Zero initiativeThe list closed Monday, February 24, 2020.  

Everyone on the preferred list has been, or will, be assessed using the standard tool (VI-SPDAT).  Those scoring above a certain level will receive a more in-depth assessment using the VAT (see below), and referred, as appropriate, to HRAP.  Less vulnerable individuals will be referred to The ARCHES Project for housing placement in one of their programs.  The project will use funds from City's federal programs (tenant based rental assistance)(TBRA) and from HRAP, which will require an additional allocation of $200,000.  The City Manager supports the request, which is expected to go to City Council soon.  To date, HRAP has assisted 270 homeless individuals.

Salem's Homeless Rental Assistance Program components, courtesy SHA's Eddie Maestas

A couple of years ago, SHA, in cooperation with Salem Police and Fire Departments, created an "immediate needs station" that provides 24/7 access to basic needs items for people in crisis -- clothing, food, blankets, socks, shoes, etc.  It's used every day and donations are always needed.  They can be dropped off at the SHA Office at 360 Church Street SE during business hours (see here).