Sunday, October 30, 2016

Un-merger, Expansion, Revision


OR-504 before Marion/Polk Merged into ROCC
Marion and Polk County programs, through ROCC, have submitted their 2016 request for HUD's CoC Program funds.  This year**, we're asking for about $747K or ~23% of the total allocation to ROCC (~$3,242K).  That's just $20K more than we received in 2005, 2006 and 2007, when we had our own continuum of care (OR-504), $140K less than we received in 2008, and over $206K less than we received in 2009 and 2010 (in 2011 we merged with the 26 counties of ROCC because we lacked the organizational capacity for managing our own  program, as noted here).  Now, after five years in ROCC, some are saying it's time to revisit the decision to merge.  The question is, are we better together?  If not, what are we going to do about the organizational capacity problem?

It's just too dang bad we don't have a regional Task Force to help get answers to these questions.  It's something a) they might actually be able to accomplish (unlike, say, building affordable housing), and b) it'd mean something (unlike what's been proposed).
The Former OR-504 CoC

To be fair, the Chair of the Task Force's Transitional Housing/Shelter committee said he wanted to talk about the un-merging idea when the committee last met (10/20), but he didn't pursue it, likely because of the negative reaction from the ROCC's Coordinator, Jo Ann Zimmer, who was at the meeting to talk about expanding the use of Servicepoint, the Homeless Management Information System software used in Oregon, and the importance of data in creating an effective homeless services delivery system.

We get that pulling out of ROCC might not be as good for ROCC as it might be for us, but we should at least talk about it.  (BTW, if you want to explore federal program awards on your own, you can check out this link.)

OHCS Memo Requesting SHAP/EHA Program Expansion
A couple of interesting things going on at Oregon Housing and Community Services Department (OHCS). 

Margaret Salazar, formerly of PDX HUD, takes the helm on Tuesday, succeeding Margaret Van Vliet, who came to OHCS from the PDX Housing Bureau.  The other item of interest concerns a questionable expansion of the SHAP and EHA programs.

Last winter, the legislature allocated  $10M to two OHCS progams: the State Housing Assistance Program ($2M) and the Emergency Housing Assistance program ($8M) for "homeless prevention and assistance."  This was a "one-time" allocation to the programs, which is not something prior SHAP and EHA grantees are apparently used to seeing, and what makes what's going on at OHCS interesting.
Where Most HSC Meetings Take Place.
It seems that some unnamed grantees (in PDX?) want to use the funds for capital acquisition, i.e., real estate, for "homeless shelter facilities and transitional housing", which SHAP and EHA guidelines don't currently allow.  So, this month OHCS, with the advice of the Oregon "a case can be made" Department of Justice, asked the Housing Stability Council to expand those programs to allow such acquisitions, and the HSC dutifully complied with fingers crossed that the expansion doesn't cause OHCS to be sued.  See the OHCS memorandum in support of the expansion here at page 13, and notes on the Housing Stability Council's discussion here at page 6.

The litigation risk notwithstanding, Salem's HOME Youth Resource Center should consider whether its plans for a minors-only shelter might have a better chance of success through the SHAP and EHA programs vs. the HUD program they're trying for now, in conjunction with eight other counties in the ROCC.  See here and here.              

Finally, this past week the Salem Housing Advisory Committee voted to accept a staff proposal to recommend  that the Salem Housing Board of Commissioners revise how vouchers are issued under SHA's Section 8 Administration Plan.  The move would put families into smaller units, but allow more families to be served.  The need for the revision comes as a result of rising rents and will come before the SHABOC in November.

**[2/13/17 Update: the total requested by Marion/Polk County providers for Marion/Polk County residents was closer to $647K, not $747K (it turns out that one of the M/P projects is actually for residents of Lincoln County).  Because of its many issues, ROCC was given a low score on its application, and one M/P program that asked for $36K was not funded at all.  The total awarded M/P projects was thus only $579K.]    

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