Sunday, December 4, 2016

PTTF: Meeting 9

Ryan G., Nowshin A., Meghan M., Shanbo Z., Devon D.
Despite several absences at last week's meeting, the Task Force members outnumbered the audience members.  There are two meetings left, January 23 and February 7.

Salem Mayor-elect Chuck Bennett is now subbing for Mayor Petersen.  

After another of Dr. Janet's rambling introductions, five graduate students from Willamette University, enrolled in a course intended to offer "experiential learning as business consultants" and styling themselves as "PACE 2.1 Consulting", gave a 10-minute presentation

  1. broadly describing their project "scope" as  "conduct primary and secondary research" and "analyze and evaluate strategic plans for each subcommittee."  
  2. their research on "Veterans Support" 
  3. and their "Future Project Plans"

The "PACE Project", first mentioned back in October, is apparently the result of conversations between the course instructor and Dr. Janet, to whom the student consultants will report.  Notably, the Task Force was not asked to take any action to approve or ratify the "project scope" or plan, and no time frame for completion, other than "the spring", was given.  As with the the decision to contract with Karen Ray, the Task Force was simply informed that the students would be involved. 

Also notable was/is the plan to have the students make recommendations "for Veterans' Needs and Issues."  [See 12/21/16 update below.]  Dr. Janet has given the Task Force to understand that the Veterans committee, which was co-chaired by Steve Bobb and Jennifer Wheeler, both of Polk County, ceased its work without having put forward any recommendations.  However, the audio record of the last meeting and subsequent emails indicate otherwise.  So, one has to wonder, is Dr. Janet telling porkies again?    

As for the students' presentation, it was refreshing to hear comments that reflected current thinking in this area, particularly from the data analyst, Ryan Gail, who talked about the need for assessment tools to ensure the allocation of resources based on a person's unique needs.  These students,  seem to "get" what Jimmy Jones (MWVCAA ARCHES Project) said at the last VC meeting in October, about the need for a commitment to widespread participation in a local HMIS and SPDATs.  These students, unlike the Task Force, are not still viewing about homelessness through a 1980s or 90s lens, so there's some reason for hope.  

The students made several references to "our briefs" that the Task Force had before them, but those briefs have not been made public, so we cannot comment on them.  (They appear to have been  part of a multi-page document given only to the Task Force, based on the fact that the they were referred at various points during the meeting to "page 35" and "issue briefs at pages 31-34.")

[Update 12/21/16: we have obtained a copy of the 38-page document given the Task Force.  The materials not provided to the public consist of 11 "issue briefs", 4 at pages 12 through 21, and 7 at pages 24 through 35. None of the briefs were approved by the committees.

The first four briefs are on eight "strategies" relating to homeless veterans proposed by the PACE students labeled "Strategic Plan Recommendations." The Task Force did not consider adopting these strategies at the 12/1 meeting, and they don't appear on any of the lists of recommendations generated to date.  Basically they call for coordinating efforts to find and house veterans using the VI-SPDAT as an assessment tool, providing bus passes, gift cards and rent support, and developing affordable housing including micro-housing.

The remaining seven, two-page briefs correspond to one or more of recommendations that the Task Force was asked to approve at the meeting.  Each brief sets out the recommendation ("strategy"), the "Problem to be addressed" by the recommendation or strategy, and the "Research basis for proposed strategy."  Like the recommendations they are intended to support, the statements in these briefs are very general.  They could have been written by an intelligent eighth-grader with access to the internet.]   

Following the students' presentation, the Task Force was running about 10 minutes late.  The process of approving the second set of recommendations (see here for a simplified list of all recommendations) also ran over 10 minutes, leaving only 5 minutes to decide what the Task Force's successor organization should look like, based on Karen Ray's memo of options.

The level of discussion was, as in previous meetings, extremely shallow, uninformed and even misinformed.  The most interesting thing in this segment was when someone in the audience would shout, "Can't hear you!" 

The second most interesting thing was when Mayor Clark asked to have the word "camping" taken out of the recommendation to look into some kind of sanctioned camping program (specifically, "Analyze the advisability of allowing, supporting or facilitating some form of temporary, support-coordinated camping.")  She was okay with the recommendation, just not the word "camping."  As someone in the audience put it, "They recommend not discussing the reality of people's lives."

On the form of the successor organization, there was a brief, unenthusiastic, very general discussion, but no decision.  One member thought funding should precede a decision on form, but had no suggestions about funding.  Ultimately, it was the opinion of the Chair (Mayor Clark) that the Task Force was looking for a combination of options 2 (public-private) and 3 (collaboration), which preference she and Dr. Janet would take back to Karen Ray for further development.  
KMUZ's Sara Cromwell and Michael Livingston

Then came public comment from KMUZ's Willamette Wakeup's Tuesday hosts, consisting of all the things local providers could do with $20,000, which just happens to be the exact amount spent for  Karen Ray consultation services to the Task Force.  The full text of their comment can be found at the end of this post.

Next steps: the Task Force "leadership" is now down to two (unless Dr. Janet and Mayor Clark intend to include Mayor-elect Bennett in their secret planning sessions).  If the Task Force is going to "pivot to implementation", a lot has to happen at the next two meetings.

January's meeting is already pretty full, with the last of the recommendations, or some of them, to be considered, along with the report of the community engagement committee, and what's listed on the 11/1 version of the "meeting matrix" (seniors, senior housing, reentry housing, and "other public safety issues").  That leaves February for everything else, including Karen Ray's "tree planting" ceremony.  If there's a plan, it's not been shared with the public, who, for the most part, seem to have lost interest.  They certainly don't seem to feel there's anything worth celebrating.        

You've Just Been Given $20K!

(Michael Livingston) I’ve been following and reporting on the work of the Task Force for KMUZ Community Radio. In preparation for a future program, we asked a number of local social service providers the following question: Pretend you've just been given $20,000 for your program.  The only requirement is that you spend it on something that is likely to have immediate impact, as opposed to a long-term project. Please list all the things you might use the money for. 

Sara Cromwell -- another KMUZ volunteer --and I are here today to share with you some of the responses. 

If HOME Youth and Resource Center -- a Community Action program -- had $20,000 to spend, they’d use it for
  • 16 hours training in mental and behavioral health and suicide prevention
  • 20 sets of new undergarments for girls
  • 20 sleeping bags
  • 20 pairs of boys' underwear
  • 20 sets of youth rain gear
  • 80 hours of case management and street outreach
  • 40 hours and mileage transporting youth in need of shelter, medical care and other basics
  • stabilize one family with a rent or utilities payment
  • make a needed repair to a youth's house or buy a needed household item
  • one laptop to use in the field or for street outreach
  • travel expenses to reunite youth with their families outside the area
  • 50 youth bus passes
  • help with 20 youths' phone bills
  • 40 birth certificates and IDs
  • 50 haircut vouchers
  • 50 pairs of new shoes
  • help with college tuition or youth internship stipend
  • AND 20 quality backpacks.

If the Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network had $20,000 to spend, they’d use it one of two ways
.  They could pay the first and last month’s rent and a security deposit to put 6 families into transitional housing.  $20,000 would also allow them to hire one-half a full time staff person to develop the capacity of their Family Mentoring Program, which matches trained volunteers with vulnerable families in an effort to create a sustained and productive mentoring relationship. The volunteer mentors work with families on budgeting, parenting, and relationship-building.  The program was developed and is used by Interfaith Hospitality Network affiliates across the country, as well as other organizations working with low-income families.

If Congregations Helping People had $20,000 to spend, they’d use it in their Back-to-Work Program to pay for

  • 10 certificates, recertifications, or license renewals
  • 10 pairs of workboots and socks
10 sets of flagger supplies
10 sets of scrubs and shoes for CNA, CMA, dental hygiene assistants
10 construction or maintenance belts with tools
  • 19 food handler permits
  • AND 45 bus passes or gas vouchers

Northwest Human Services’ Homeless Outreach Advocacy Program could, with $20,000, immediately put 6 families into permanent housing.  If they had any money left over, they’d use it to help people obtain their out-of-state birth certificates so they could then get their IDs.

Polk County could use $20,000
to buy a used van or truck to pick up donations of large household items for use by families exiting homelessness.  Currently, county employees pick up these items on their own time, using their own vehicles.  With a dedicated vehicle, this task could be picked up by local volunteers.  Any amount left over would be used to buy mattresses, sleeping bags, tents, socks, jackets, boots, tarps, camping gear for cooking, help with security deposits, pet food, pet care and pet supplies, waterproof backpacks, sleeping pads, air mattresses, head lice kits, and rain gear.

$20,000 could expand the number of beds covered by Servicepoint
, Oregon’s Homeless Management Information System, and the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency’s coordinated entry system, by paying for 8 Servicepoint licenses and more than 100 hours of training and technical assistance for those eight organizations that don’t currently use Servicepoint or participate in the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency’s coordinated entry system.

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