Sunday, March 27, 2016

MWHITF: Agenda for Meeting 2


Photo by Jane Doe



The main program on the Mid-Willamette Homeless Task Force's agenda for Tuesday is titled, "Systemic Issues: Barriers and Opportunities to Expand Affordable Housing (Information/Discussion."  Forty-five minutes is allotted to five speakers.

Seven or eight minutes is not much time to try and convey information in a complicated area unfamiliar to most on the task force.  Meeting 2 might in this respect feel a lot like meeting 1.   

Also on the agenda is a 30-minute discussion of "Strategic Plan."  It's not clear whether this SP is some kind of overarching plan for reducing homelessness, or whether it's the task force's SP for reaching its goals (as yet undefined) over the next 9 months.  It could be either, we just don't know.

If, however, as Commissioner Carlson has said several times, the goal of the task force is to put "meat on the bones" of the Marion-Polk Counties' 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness (dated October 2008), then it would make sense for the task force to begin their own planning by reviewing the 10-Year Plan, just as the co-chairs did in October 2015.  
 
From page 34 of the 10-Year Plan:
Certainly, the community cannot claim to have met these four goals, especially not these.  Although efforts and even progress might have been made, they weren't reported, notwithstanding the numerous references to the 10-Year Plan included in Action Plans and CAPERS

The 10-Year Plan goals were lofty when they needed to be well-defined and tied to benchmarks and key performance indicators.  The plan was to attack on all fronts, without consideration of resources or organizational capacity or sequencing.  Difficult choices were entirely avoided.  The goals are still valid, but they need a lot of work.  Likewise, the objectives (underneath each goal) need reworking so that they are all specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.      

Notably, the people who worked on the 10-Year Plan organized themselves into five "Work Teams" -- Children and Families, Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Reentry from Incarceration, Runaway & Homeless Youth and Veterans.  The task force, on the other hand, has not created any working groups, at least so far.  It's hard to imagine how 20 people working together in 2-hour meetings spread over the next 9 months will be able to avoid the need to split into small groups in order to do what needs to be done.  Perhaps they're relying on the co-chairs to do it all for them.

In preparation for the implementation phase, the 10-Year Planners created two new teams (or groups), and assigned goals and strategies to each:

Did the work groups accomplish any of these things?  Again, we do not know, as we have no benchmarks or reports.  Like the four primary goals, these work group goals are pretty squishy, and would need to be reworked to make them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.     
     
Finally, the 10-Year Plan included a page of "Next Steps."  Only two we know for sure were taken.  The first was the institution of the annual Homeless Connect, now "Community Connect", events.  See here and here.  The second was the creation of the current task force (maybe there was another, but if so, there is no record of it that we can find).  

We have no doubt that the 10-Year Plan took a great deal of work to pull together, etc.  However, today especially, it is easy to imagine why it went nowhere.  In addition to the goals, objectives and next steps being too general and not tied to benchmarks, responsibilities weren't assigned, and there were no cost estimates, deadlines or reporting requirements.  If the task force intends to put meat on the bones of this plan, it will need first to put more bone on its bones. 

Twenty minutes has been set aside for public comment (3 minutes max).  The public may also submit written comment through staff, and contact the task force directly.

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