Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Voucher Freeze, Pre-Cleanup Outreach, Committees, Council Goals and SHA Lands Another Grant

DAS Cleanup Notice
Earlier this month, the Salem Housing Authority announced it could no longer accept nominations for its homeless Housing Choice Voucher lottery, on account of rising rents and not wanting to run out of money before the end of the year.

Last week, authorities conducted another homeless camp pre-cleanup outreach, this one in the woods behind the Mill Creek Best Western.  It was just us, State Police Officer Davie (the camp was on State property), and the DAS project manager.  We talked to Nicolai, the only person present, and tried to mirror the approach we'd seen Nicole and Sonya use,
Nicolai's camp
except we hadn't brought any water or coffee with us.  I felt bad about that.  Nicolai had a Russian/Ukrainian accent.  He was clean-shaven and slightly built.  He said his green card had expired.  Yes, he'd been to UGM, but "people drink and stuff", and, anyway, he preferred to be alone.  He was not interested in services, except he'd been to "the food bank" a few times. He'd seen the posted notice and had already moved some of his stuff.  Sgt. Davie ran a wants and warrants search, and confirmed Nicolai understood he couldn't be there on Monday.

The MWHITF committees have been, uhm, busy.  Support Services/Education (Wessel) has scheduled a bunch of meetings (yet to take place), Transitional Housing/Shelter (Starr), Financial (Peterson) and Public Safety (Leinassar) have each met once, Affordable Housing (Bednarz) and Vets (Bobb/Wheeler) have each met twice, and what we think of as the outreach committee (Reeves) has met three times.  (The Health and Housing Committee isn't really part of the MWHITF, even though it's claimed.)  Probably too early to expect a report from any of these at the July MWHITF meeting, though.

In a similar vein, the City Council is reporting progress on its homelessness-related goals.  (But don't try too hard to match the two.)

Council Goals                                                          Progress Report                                          

But, before you start feeling all depressed, the Salem Housing Authority was recently approved to participate in a HUD demonstration program that will extend rental subsidies for youth from 18 months to the standard 5 years available to families (Resolution 2187, adopted 6/6/16).  It's also been approved to apply to OHA for funding to create a two-year regional healthcare program (including SHA, Marion County Housing Authority, and West Valley Housing Authority) that will provide HA tenants with the services of three or four "healthcare navigators" (aka "community health workers").

Are you sure you've given me all your prescriptions?

"Many now recognize that providing good health care has to go beyond the doctor’s office — especially for minorities and low-income people. Limited access to healthy food, environmental perils, crime, insecure housing, insufficient recreational opportunities and the absence of affordable transportation all can have a huge effect on a person’s health."
"These factors, often called the social determinants of health, are hard for clinicians to address during medical appointments. To contend with them, hospitals, community health clinics, public health agencies and some health plans are increasingly turning to community health workers."
But maybe the best news is that SHA was recently awarded a $466K grant for the veteran housing program we wrote about here.  Andy Wilch, Phil Dean, Terry Frazier, Dominique Donaho, Grace McCabe, Nicole Utz, Kalena Plath, Heather Jones, Sonya Ryland and Pamala Garrick -- these are people who know what they're doing, and we are very fortunate indeed to have such dedicated, forward-thinking folks at the Salem Housing Authority.  And yes, that that's where Nicole and Sonya work. 

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