Friday, November 24, 2017

11/21/17 Minutes

PENDING APPROVAL


Residents: Tyras Freeman, Valorie Freeman
Organizations: Ken Hetsel, Mid-Willamette Watershed Council; Raleigh Kirschman, UGM; Ross Swartzendruber, Salem Creative Network; Amy and Peter Urban, Oregon Seniors and People with Physical Disabilities; Chris Pelke, Salem Music Scene; Ken Houghton, MWVCAA ARCHES Project; Julie Varga and Dorothy Pedersen, Bahá'í Faith;  Kathleen Thorpe, Home Base Shelters of Salem
City and County Representatives: Councilor Kaser; Heather Ray, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Parole and Probation; Brady Rogers, Administrator, City of Salem Neighborhood Enhancement Division; Aaron Panko, Community Development Department
Guests:  Teresa Joslin, Lorrie Walker, Brad Ramsey, Omar Alvarado, Chris Carman, Sarah Kraus, Matthew Hamilton

The regular meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 21, 2017, at the First Christian Church at 685 Marion Street NE, Salem.   

The minutes of the October meeting were approved by unanimous consent.

Councilor Kaser said she wanted to thank everyone who voted in favor of the library bond, and briefly reported on the adoption of the City’s Strategic Plan, the work session on the City’s Pedestrian Safety Study, the Salem Streetscape Plan Kickoff Open House planned for November 30, the Council Task Force to Evaluate Near-Term Solutions for Reducing Bridge Traffic Congestion (consisting of the Mayor, and Councilors Hoy, Kaser and Lewis), the opening of the temporary ice rink at Riverfront Park, and the recent sweep to remove “litter-on-a stick” signs in the City right of way and deposit them with the Public Works Department.  She also reported that “plans are in place for a warming center”, but did not go into detail (see here at page 19).

In public comment, Ross Swartzendruber reported on the October meeting hosted by and Salem Creative Network on “The Future of Entertainment in Salem” (having to do with relaxing the restrictions of SRC Chapter 93, aka, “the noise ordinance”) and other efforts to further the cause through social media, commenting at meetings of the City Council and Downtown Advisory Board, and canvassing.  

The board heard a presentation on “The Homeless Brain” by Stephen Goins, Director of Transitional Programs for Northwest Human Services, and the HOAP and HOST programs.

In old business, Michael Livingston’s motion that CANDO recommend that the Salem City Council: direct the Public Works Department to designate one or more City-owned and supervised sites where residents can deposit temporary signs removed from City rights-of-way, and direct the City Manager to post on the City’s webpage information about the prohibition on placing signs in City rights-of-way, what constitutes a City right-of-way, and the designated sign deposit site(s), passed unanimously.  

Also in old business, Livingston also informed the board that arrangements had been made to purchase personal flotation devices through the Salem Fire Department, and all that remained was to decide on a means for affixing the CANDO name and/or logo to the front of the jackets. (See here.)

The meeting adjourned at 7:18 P.M.

Friday, November 17, 2017

News from the Continuum

Season Opens on Federal Program $$
Contrary to fears of cuts to federal funding, Salem's Urban Development, Community Services and Housing Commission (CSHC) will have additional "spending money" to award this winter, according to Federal Programs Manager, Shelly Ehenger.  Ehenger says this increase is due partly to Catholic Community Services Community Housing Development Corporation (Salem's only CHDO) declining the $160,000 award for the multi-family reconstruction project, St. Monica, as well as  $30,000 in CHDO operating costs (see here at page 16).  It's also the result of some recent financial housekeeping within Federal Programs, she said.  Ehenger  estimates there will be about $1.5M in CDBG funds for the 2018-2019 cycle (about $300K more than last year) and $1M in HOME funds.  If  15% of the CDBG funds is set aside for social services (the max allowed), there will be $225,000 available for social services (about $25,000 more than last year).  See this blog for details. 

The feasibility of reforming the local CoC (consisting of Salem/Marion & Polk Counties, map pictured right) which inquiry readers may recall we attempted to urge upon elected officials about six months ago, remains an open question, even though Salem's Mayor, four City Councilors (Andersen, McCoid, Cook and Hoy), and Andy Wilch, Salem Housing Authority Administrator, have all demonstrated they support independence, and none of the County electeds have indicated any opposition.

Reforming the local CoC was first mentioned here (10/30/16 Un-merger, Expansion, Revision), and discussed here (12/29/16 ROCC: Leave or Remain?), here (1/26/17 ROCC v. Maximum Feasible Participation), here (3/1/17 Letter to CANDO re ROCC Leave/Remain), here (5/9/17 Outreach Report), here (5/6/17 Community Action Makes Agenda Clear) here (5/10/17 Shangri-La: CoC Capacity Has Not Changed), here (5/24/17 HUD Seeks to Ease Tensions Within the ROCC).

Preliminary Recommendations - 7/25/17 PP Presentation
The Affordable Housing, Social Services and Homelessness Strategic Planning Work Group looked at the local CoC issue (discussed here (7/22/17 News from Continuum covered the work group's July 18 mtg), and here (7/29/17 News from the Continuum covered its July 25 mtg), and enthusiastically recommended re-formation as one of several "approaches" (see here).

Unfortunately, however, through the staff summary process, re-forming the CoC and several other "approaches" ended up lumped together as a recommendation to "Maximize resources for, and coordination of, social services" (see the staff summary here).

Page 10 of Salems's Strategic Plan
The "maximize resources" recommendation did make it into the strategic plan (combined with "align Salem's existing social services funding with strategic initiatives") (see right).

BUT, unless you happen to know how that recommendation was developed, you're probably going to wonder, "What exactly does it mean in this context to 'maximize resources'?"

Probably, you're not going to think it means  registering Salem, Marion and Polk Counties with HUD as an independent CoC in April 2018 (although a document entitled "Steps to Forming a Local Continuum of Care" is posted to the City's Strategic Planning web page, so maybe you would).

The question at this point is, what's next?

Logically, what's next is figuring out the staffing.  In other words, what happens next is more or less up to the City Manager, Steve Powers, who rightly views the situation as calling for a "regional approach", i.e., one that involves elected officials from both Marion and Polk Counties.  To that end, Mr. Powers, along with MWVCOG's Sean O'Day, Marion County Commissioner Carlson and the mayors of Keizer, Monmouth and Independence, developed a proposal whereby the COG would hire and house a Homeless Program Coordinator to work on the local CoC question, along with a whole bunch of other stuff.  (See here under "COG Board", then, "cog-board-agenda-packet-17oct2017.pdf").  

As we reported last month, the COG accepted the proposal (which would be revenue-neutral to the COG) and authorized Mr. O'Day to execute an intergovernmental agreement with the participating bodies.  It's now up to them to follow through.

We have been told that it's not certain whether Salem will follow through, but we don't know who gets to decide, or when a decision will be made.  Even if they do all follow through in a timely fashion and a qualified person is hired per plan by January 2018, it's not clear that the CoC issue won't get buried under the extensive "scope of work" described in Exhibit C of the agreement (at left).

It seems like a costly way to mire a simple strategy in bureaucratic mud.

So what's the alternative?  Continue in the ROCC, which is not favored, or find/hire someone who can begin to implement the "Steps to Forming a Local Continuum of Care", like the work group had in mind.  

So, that's where things stand with respect to reforming the Salem/Marion and Polk County CoC.  Re-forming the CoC is favored by Salem, the entity with the most at stake, but matters have become unduly complicated, and it's not clear they'll be straightened out in time for 2018.  On the other hand, as one city official put it, "If we [mess] this up, it'll be the easiest thing we ever [messed] up."

Marion County
The Oregon Housing and Community Services Department conducted "outreach" on the Statewide Housing Plan in Salem last Monday, telling us a buncha stuff we already pretty much knew ('cause it's based on 2011-2015 data), like rents have increased drastically, and there's a severe housing shortage in our community.  If you're wondering what the Plan will do, OHCS says it "will clearly articulate the extent of Oregon's housing problem, and what can be done to address it.".

So, OHCS wants to know what we'd like them to do about the housing problem (not really, they just thought we might feel better if they asked).

If you'd like to tell OHCS about your housing and social service problems, you can waste your time filling out this survey, and become a valued statistic that demonstrates how OHCS involved the community in the making of the plan, when it's, you know, finally published.

Why is filling out the survey a waste of time?  Because OHCS and the Oregon legislature already know what the problem is.  The problem is that "the system is broken", and by "system" is meant the system of local Community Action Agencies responsible for delivering the programs and services that the state and the federal governments fund.  It's a "system" that everyone acknowledges lacks expertise, transparency and accountability.  The one thing the CAAs do have going for them is a great lobby, so nothing changes, and it does no good to ask OHCS to do something really simple like, require local CAAs to publish reports on how they're spending state and federal funds, and the efficacy of their programs.  We know, we've tried.  But they -- the CAAs -- they won't agree to it.  And OHCS and the legislature let them get away with it.  See here, for example.

CAPO Wants More Money
So if you want to make "a difference", when CAPO sends you the email at left, asking you to send them a check or PayPal them some cash on "#Giving Tuesday", tell them "Not until your members start publishing reports on how they're spending state and federal funds, and the efficacy of their programs."

Or, when our own MWVCAA sends you an email, asking you to participate in their "Driving Out Poverty golf marathon", tell them, "Only if you promise not to spend the money I give you on that quarter-million dollar balloon payment you have coming due on your building that you are not using as a day shelter, and only if you start publishing reports on how you're spending state and federal funds, and the efficacy of your programs."  They might not value expertise, transparency, accountability, or the community's good opinion, but they do seem to value money.  Which makes the "Giving Tuesday" effort all the more pathetic when you consider that first, CAPO sent out the wrong link (sending potential donors to a literacy program called STAIR).

Then, a couple days later, CAPO sent out a "corrected link" that takes you to a list that includes a link to CAPO's Paypal button, and links for each individual CAA -- but the link to MWVCAA's donation button just takes you to an error page.  So, if you want to tell MWVCAA what they need to do to earn your money, it looks like you'll need to go to their FB page.  If you think they'll care.

Alternatively, consider giving to St. Joseph Shelter for families in Mt. Angel -- the only family shelter in the area, aside from Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

News from the Continuum

WVCH, the local CCO, is expected to announce its 2017 "Transformation Grants" soon.  Marion County is saying they were awarded $83,000 for its Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which was piloted in Seattle and Dallas, Oregon.

Polk County Service Integration and
Service Integration Teams of Marion County
(which are not sponsored by Marion County for reasons we won't go in to here) have said they will each receive $15,000 to be shared among the teams.*
 
MWVCAA has indicated it expects to receive around $65,000 to hire a Director of Co-Location Services and Grant Management  (as described in the ARCHES "business plan" submitted in August to OHCS).  See here and here.  This position "will be responsible for managing the co-location services with partner agencies" ("managing" here would have to mean marketing ARCHES and contracting with partner agencies to co-locate, as reportedly only Easter Seals and Oregon Health Authority are there now), and "writing for more grants to support this work."  Yes, it looks like the WVCH grant will pay for a grant writer.  Guess we can always hope the person MWVCAA hires is homeless.

Speaking of money from heaven, the MWVCAA board -- who's got to make the first of two $250,000 balloon payments on their new ARCHES building in 2018 -- recently approved hiring Salem Leadership Foundation Lead Guide Jerry Stevens** and ProFund Fundraising Solutions, to help them raise unrestricted funds through something called a "golf marathon." See here at the last page.***  

Salem Housing Authority most recently reported having 31 individuals enrolled in HRAP and "receiving intensive case management.  They say eleven have been permanently housed.  The remaining 20 are "in various stages of the intake process and waiting for a housing unit to become available."  (As are nine veterans with VASH vouchers -- separate program.)  SHA reports that "many" of the HRAP participants are "actively engaged in receiving services."  SHA still intends to meet its goal of housing 100 by the end of the fiscal year (June 30).  For perspective on those numbers, consider the Seattle program for getting chronically homeless into housing.

SHA also reported recognizing the need for additional case management support for HRAP (the City funding budgeted for .75 FTE) consistent with a 1:15 caseload, based on their research and experience.  They reportedly intend to apply for grants to help fund that additional staff for HRAP.

Sobering Ctr in TX - Courtesy Houston Chronicle
The architecture firm that agreed to help MWVCAA redesign the space in the new ARCHES building,   AC&Co, has reportedly completed their initial drawings -- and they include a sobering center.  See here at page 20.  The drawings reportedly are now being "moved forward to partners for consideration."  For full details on the Golden ARCHES Project, see here, here, and here

The sobering center "partners" are believed to be the City of Salem, Marion County, Salem Hospital, and probably Bridgeway (someone has to run the program).  The local CCO, WVCH, should be in the conver$ation, but apparently hasn't shown any interest, as of yet.  

A major sticking point for the existing sobering center "partners" is reportedly the scope of services that should be offered.  The County reportedly wants a much bigger program, including treatment options, not just referrals.  This disagreement, which has apparently contributed to the significant delay in re-opening the ARCHES day shelter, is likely to endure at least through December 31, 2018.  Meanwhile, MWVCAA is still pretending they run a day shelter:

from the CRP Director's October Report to the BOD

Winter is around the corner, and MWVCAA has gone back to Plan A for an overnight warming shelter/center, namely relying on the same downtown churches, specifically the First Christian, Congregational and Presbyterian to host the shelter.  MWVCAA is also asking "key stakeholders" (TSA, UGM, other Emergency Housing Network members, Salem PD & FD) to commit 12 staff hours to "support" the "Lead Volunteer" in opening and closing duties, in order to relieve MWVCAA, who would otherwise be responsible.  (See here at p 20.)  

All MC Homeless
With winter comes the annual Point-in-Time Homeless Count.  A good time to check out OHCS's new, interactive, PITC "dashboard" that compares by county the number from 2015 and 2017 (years that included a count of unsheltered homeless).  But be careful examining the subpopulation data -- the years are displayed backwards (see diagram below).

The Mayor told KMUZ's Willamette Wakeup this week that he's had only one person ("a lawyer") express interest in serving on the "task force" that the City Council asked him in September to form to address "quality of life issues" downtown (i.e., the issues that gave rise to the City's failed attempt to pass a "sit/lie ordinance").

Homeless MC Youth
The Mayor indicated he wasn't all that interested in forming a "task force" -- unless there was sufficient (i.e., more) interest coming from the business community, and said businesses and individuals with "quality of life" issues should (for now) contact their neighborhood associations.

Although it's not being discussed publicly, the City is reportedly working to reconcile its strategic plan goals for affordable housing, homelessness and social service coordination, adopted at the October 23 City Council meeting, with the City's apparent, but maybe not firm, commitment to invest $45,000 in a Homeless Program Coordinator at the MWV Council of Governments.   The concern, obviously, is to avoid having the scope of work of the COG position overlap with work already being done or intended to be done by City staff.  The COG position, which was considered to be more dead than alive over the summer, wasn't discussed during the meetings of the work group on affordable housing, social services and homelessness.  

Finally, in non-news, the Statesman Journal continues to miss opportunities to report on the area's efforts to prevent and end homelessness.  See the latest effort, "How Salem is Addressing Homelessness" by Jonathan Bach, here.

[11/9/19 Update: *Correction - Service Integration Teams of Marion County received a total of $30,000 -- half to the teams sponsored by Salem Health (North Marion, North Salem and Woodburn), and half to Santiam Hospital, which currently has one team, but will be adding another in 2018.]

[11/9/17 Update: **SLF's CEO Sam Skillern posted a comment on FB yesterday, disputing the reference to Jerry Stevens as an SLF "Lead Guide."  However, that claim is still in Mr. Stevens' professional profile on Linkedin (linked in the blog above under "Jerry Stevens").  So, it would seem that Mr. Stevens either is, or was, an SLF "Lead Guide", we don't know which, and we don't really know what a "Lead Guide" is, either.  But one thing we do know is that Sam wants everyone to be 100% clear that Mr. Stevens IS NOT on the staff of SLF.]

[11/14/17 Update: *** "Golf marathon" details can be found here.]


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

10/17/17 Minutes

October 17, 2017
Minutes


Residents: none
Organizations: Ken Hetsel, Mid-Willamette Watershed Council; Ross Swartzendruber, Salem Creative Network; Angela Jones-Sherrard, DowntownSalemLoft; Rick Bratton, Guest Services Manager, UGM; Tamara Linde, Cascade Radon; Steve Evans, Salem Transit Committee
City and County Representatives: Officers Pat McDermott and Josh Edmiston    
Guests: Jim Scheppke; Michael Slater  

The regular meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, at the First Christian Church at 685 Marion Street NE, Salem.  Erma Hoffman acted as Secretary.

The minutes of the August meeting were approved by unanimous consent.

In public comment, Ross Swartzendruber, announced there would be a meeting hosted by Salem Music Scene and Salem Creative Network on “The Future of Entertainment in Salem” (having to do with relaxing the restrictions of SRC Chapter 93, aka, “the noice ordinance”) at 7p on October 22 at 365 Ferry Street.  Steve Evans told the board about Cherriots’ plans to resume Saturday and Sunday bus service some time in 2019.  Michael Slater announced the formation of “Salem Corridor Project Stakeholders” group to talk about the City’s plans to connect Pringle Park to Riverfront Park.  A meeting is planned for 6p, Thursday, November 9, at the Pringle Park Community Hall.

The board heard presentations from Kenneth Hetsel on the condition of area creek banks, and from Tamara Linde on radon remediation.

In new business, Rebekah Engle’s motion to endorse Measure 24-423, City of Salem Library Improvements General Obligation Bond Authorization, passed unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 7:08 P.M.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Incompetence + Collusion + Cover Up at OHCS over Golden ARCHES Project - Part 3


When CAA initially applied to OHCS for EHA and SHAP funds for the 2015-2017 biennium, they had to include a "work plan", and show how they "provided a meaningful opportunity for participation in the work plan by the local or regional continuum of care, local service providers, advocates, clients, businesses, churches, citizens, governments and other interested stakeholders."  See OAR 813-046-050, OAR 813-240-041.  Did any readers, other than MWVCAA Board members, happen to participate in creating MWVCAAs work plans?  Did anyone even know about them?  We didn't, and no one we know did, either.  We know for certain the wider community wasn't asked about the decision in June to close the ARCHES day shelter, or reallocate such a large proportion of MWVCAA's Emergency Housing Assistance to the purchase of a building.  But that, apparently, is just fine with OHCS.

Below are MWVCAA's EHA budgets in March 2017, before they decided to pursue building acquisition, and in June, right before they closed.  As you can see, by June, the total EHA-NEW allocation had increased by about $30K.  As you also can see, the building purchase required substantial sacrifices in all other program areas.  Those most affected by the reallocation -- the local service providers like HOAP and UGM and DHS, who're picking up ARCHES's slack, the clients/consumers, the downtown businesses, churches, residents -- they were not asked.  They were not even told (unless one counts misinformation as being told).  But, these are the ones who're paying for MWVCAA's Golden ARCHES Project.       


In Part 2, we promised to discuss, in addition to who was really paying for the Golden ARCHES Project,  the affirmative steps that OHCS took to misrepresent and cover up what really happened.  So, here you go. 

"I can confirm that MWVCAA did have OHCS approval prior to acquiring the site"

ARCHES is <2,500 feet west of OHCS
Back in October 2016, when the Housing Stability Council approved OHCS's proposal to allow the new EHA and SHAP funding to be used for acquisition, OHCS told the Council that OHCS would report back on how things went.

So, in preparation for that report, on August 28, OCHS staff asked MWVCAA staff to "Please read the following description for accuracy and let me know if I've stated anything incorrectly... Renovations to enhance service provisions are underway and should be completed by November 2017."

OHCS also wanted to know "the days/hours of shelter operation and the anticipated number of persons assisted daily and annually, if possible."

MWVCAA staff responded without offering a single correction, even though, as readers will likely know, either from observation, or from reading Part 1 and Part 2, that renovations were not under way at that time, and, even now, in November, they still have not begun.  Readers also will likely know that ARCHES is less than 2,500 feet from OHCS -- less than a ten-minute walk.

ARCHES responded only with, "Our plans right now are to be open from 8:15 to 4:00 M-F...We actually believe we will be able to accommodate up to 80 people at a time."  Not, "we can accommodate up to 80", just "we actually believe we will be able."

So, on the one hand, an indirect admission ARCHES was currently accommodating zero persons, on the other, a bare assertion that their maximum capacity jumped from 65 to 80 (recall MWVCAA's August 2 statement, "The capacity for the day center will be 65 at any one time.").  Did OHCS ask any questions.  Of course not.

OHCS's August 30 report to the Council falsely stated that MWVCAA had submitted an acquisition application (see here, here, here and here), and falsely stated that the ARCHES day shelter had "doubled its daily capacity by 100%" [sic], and omitted any direct mention of the gross irregularities that occurred in the handling of the Golden ARCHES Project.  The only hint that their approval process needed improvement were two cryptic "Next Steps" inserted, without discussion or explanation, at the very end of the report.
Aug 30 Report to HSC from Ass't Dir. Claire Seguin and Homeless Programs Analyst Vicki Massey
We attended the Council's September 8 meeting to observe how the report was presented.  Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, civil servants will admit things orally that they would not in writing, even if they're being recorded, as was the case at the Council meeting.  There were no admissions during the presentation of the report.  Once again, there was not the slightest hint that any irregularity had occurred in the handling of any of the acquisitions.  Truth was, doubtless, too much to expect, given the project remains out of compliance with the requirement that the building be used for a day shelter now and for the next 20 years, and some action on OHCS's part is required to remedy the situation.  

We requested an administrative review decision on the Golden ARCHES purchase, first from MWVCAA (declined), then from OHCS.  On September 21, the Director of OHCS informed us that she "could confirm MWVCAA did have OHCS approval prior to acquiring" the Commercial Street property.  We accepted that statement at face value -- until we got the response to our public records request.  Then, it was obvious what had happened, and obvious someone(s) at OHCS and MWVCAA had been telling porkies.  We asked for a meeting, and were told one would be scheduled.  Over a month later, we're still waiting to hear from the scheduler.

So, what's to be done about the situation?  Does anyone in authority care that Salem has one less day shelter for the homeless?  That state funds have been misspent, and those responsible are skating?  It all remains to be seen, but we're not holding our breath.  It's the homeless community who're paying, after all, and it's not like they're going to complain.     

Just in case anyone's interested, our notes on the public records we received in this matter are inserted below, in chronological order with events we considered relevant.  Anyone who'd like to have an electronic copy of the records themselves, just drop us a line.  We'll be glad to share.   







Friday, October 27, 2017

Incompetence + Collusion + Cover Up at OHCS over Golden ARCHES Project - Part 2

Last October 2016, when OHCS changed its rules to allow CAAs to use their EHA and SHAP funds for acquisition, eight expressed interest.  Four, however did not bother to apply.  According to OHCS's August 30 memo, a major factor preventing their applying was "the short timeline to implement"  -- they only had until June 30 to "complete the purchase and have ready for client use a shelter or transitional housing facility."   

As discussed in Part 1, the short timeline somehow wasn't a problem for MWVCAA, who also didn't bother applying.  Lucky for them, OHCS cleared their funds to be used for acquisition anyway.  Let's say that was a mistake.

But, as we will show in Part 2, the mistake was eventually discovered.  Unfortunately, rather than admit the mistake, OHCS and MWVCAA colluded to paper it over, so no one need know. 

"Need some items for my file"

The first suggestion of record that OHCS knew they'd screwed up is an August 1 email to MWVCAA. 

I have to write something up on the acquisition accomplished with the EHA-NEW funds.  Please tell me 1) what date MWVCAA completed their move and opened to the public in the new location, 2) what other funding was used to make the building purchase, and 3) what is your capacity for the day shelter.

Now, obviously, OHCS should have known the answers to these questions before they released the half million dollars of EHA and SHAP funds, because they go to the basic requirements of the funding.  And, just as obviously, MWVCAA knew OHCS's questions went to the basic requirements of the funding, and also knew what OHCS needed the answers to be, and what MWVCAA needed the answers to be, in order to avoid the whole phony Golden ARCHES deal blowing up in everyone's face.  So, MWVCAA tried hard to give OHCS what it needed.

We completed the move on June 30th and opened immediately.  We used [O]HCS dollars for our down payment, and completed a contract sale for the building with the owners.  The payments are coming out of our normal operating budget (CSBG).  The capacity for the day center will be 65 at any one time.  Right now we've got enough money to substantially upgrade the day center area.  The drawings are being finalized, and we're about to start a renovation that will allow us to run a real, one-stop shop, bring in medical and dental and other agencies to work with our population.  We hope to complete that renovation in November. 
The answer to Question 1 needed to be "June 30."  But, a 13-page document titled, "The ARCHES Project Day Center" received in response to our public records request and by all appearances authored by MWVCAA, states, "We began our move on June 28, and completed it...by the end of business on June 30.  We opened our doors officially on July 3rd, 2017.  And, a Salem Weekly piece, A New Place for Help and Hope in Salem, published August 24, 2017, apparently based on information from MWVCAA, states ARCHES "open[ed] services" on July 3, 2017.  So, while"opened immediately" was probably meant to imply June 30, in fact had to mean the following Monday, July 3.

The answer to Question 2 needed to be consistent with the purchase's being completed by June 30.  But, a "contract sale", sometimes called an "installment contract" is a seller-financed agreement to purchase a property over time.  It is the antithesis of a completed purchase.  Furthermore, OHCS's question shows OHCS had no idea how much MWVCAA had agreed to pay for the building, or what proportion of the facility was devoted to use as a "day shelter."  As OHCS didn't know what other funding was used to purchase the building, it had no way to gauge the project's feasibility, when or if it was likely to be completed, or whether it was an appropriate of use of $.5M of EHA/SHAP funds.  Furthermore, MWVCAA's answer omitted any mention of the two, quarter-million dollar balloon payments, which are very unlikely to be paid out of MWVCAA's "normal operating budget", and which OHCS should have questioned.   

The answer to Question 3 needed to demonstrate that the Commercial Street facility had, since June 30, been continuously operating as a day shelter at a  capacity that was substantially increased from its capacity on Madison Street.  MWVCAA's hedging answer as to what the capacity "will be" begged the question what the current capacity was.  In fact, the current capacity was zero, because, as previously discussed, the day shelter was and is not a permitted use at the Commercial Street facility. They.have.no.day.shelter.
  
MWVCAA's assertions about having "enough money" "right now" for renovations, about  "drawings...being finalized", and about renovations  being "about to start" were, at best, wishful thinking, intended to distract from the issue -- which is whether ARCHES was operating a day shelter on June 30 (no).  Wishful, because on June 23, the CRP Director indicated that he would be relying on grants to pay for renovations, and the most recent management reports to the MWVCAA board of directors indicate MWVCAA was, at the end of September, still waiting to hear whether they'd secured $125K in grants "for the day center."  Moreover, those same management reports stated that MWVCAA had only just secured an architect to complete the needed drawings, so the drawings could not have been "being finalized" on August 1.  In addition, MWVCAA still, today, doesn't know what uses the renovations will need to accommodate.  Will they include a sobering center?  A commercial kitchen?  For these reasons, the renovations could not have been, on August 1, "about to start", and indeed, haven't started today.  Nevertheless, because it's possible that, on August 1, MWVCAA "hoped" unrealistically that they might complete renovations by November, we rated these answers only, "mostly false."
       
About a week after that first set of questions, OCHS was back.  "We worked through the building purchase so fast in June that I'm lacking some required documents for my file."

Someone at OHCS must have finally figured out that MWVCAA hadn't so much as submitted an application.  So, why not admit the mistake?

Instead, OHCS acted as though they just happened to have a few, very pointed questions that just happened to cover what should have been provided with the acquisition application -- the one that MWVCAA didn't submit.  The response was prompt.  "I'm working this, will try to have it all to you no later than mid-week of next week."

The next day, August 11, we published "MWVCAA Purchase Appears to Side-step State Approval Process", prompting this email to the Homeless Services Section manager from the staffer who worked on all the acquisition projects:

"There's one thing we can argue about the blog article: this project fits under the Community Capacity Building definition, which reads in part: Eligible expenses include programs, activities and projects that expand homeless prevention and or intervention program capacity."

"There's one thing we can argue"?  Not, "Oh, s%$t.  We're busted.  They know MWVCAA never submitted an application.  What do we do now?"?   

If the manager replied, she didn't do it by email.  Later that day, still August 11, the staffer sent MWVCAA an acquisition application form with the directive, "Please provide as many documents as possible by Monday."  (Emphasis added.)


Monday, the responses started trickling in to OHCS.  Some of the information was new, much of it had been conveyed in previous emails.  Then came the closing documents, the accounting policies, the list of MWVCAA's real estate holdings.  Tuesday, there was a special request.

Would it be possible to pull the installment note I sent yesterday out of the file?  The reason I am asking is that there are two $250,000 balloon payments in there, that we are going to have to cover at some point.  I'd rather that piece not be public knowledge if I can avoid it.    

"That we are going to have to cover at some point"?  Could it be any clearer that MWVCAA had no plan for making those balloon payments?  And, what's more, they didn't care, and, apparently, neither did OHCS, because they didn't ask about them.

On August 16, OHCS told MWVCAA they needed a signed document promising to use the property as a day center for 20 years (MWVCAA was already in breach of that covenant, but, never mind), and a five- year operational budget.  On August 23, MWVCAA provided the requested document, and told OHCS, "Yes, we do have reserves and resources that could be used for operating and repairs as the need arises."  No further assurances were offered or asked for.  

At some point in late August, MWVCAA provided OHCS an undated "business plan" for the project.  But, whereas a business plan generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the path and organization intends to take to reach its goals, including revenue projections, the document MWVCAA submitted reads like bad advertising copy that fails to distinguish between aspiration and reality.  It doesn't even call itself a plan.  Here's a brief summary:

The Executive Summary: the old building was run down and we needed to move.  The new building is in a better location and will allow us to expand.  Organizational Statements:  vision, mission, name, business form.  Services: we're one day going to provide a whole bunch of services.  Company History: CAAs were created as part of the War on Poverty.  Market Analysis: (5 pages) there are a lot of homeless in Salem.  Management Summary:  there are 7 really amazing managers working on this project.   Funding: ARCHES gets lots of $$ from OHCS, HUD/CoC, FEMA, HUD/HOME, CSBG, SSVF, OHA, and DHS, among others.  

Financial Analysis (at left in its entirety) we have plenty of money for renovations and staff, but we're asking for more, just in case.  Evaluation Tools: we have great assessment tools and are going to collect all kinds of cool data that will help us eliminate chronic homelessness in Salem.  Growth and Grant Opportunities: "Our goal is to open the Day Center with full services in November 2017, with the hope of attracting most of the co-location partners quickly [within 2 years] after that."

Operational Budget:  $14K/yr for supplies and equipment and $169K/yr for the building, not including the cost of hazard insurance or the $.5M in balloon payments due in 2018 and 2019.  Income from Rents:  (at right) $132K/yr.

MWVCAA's projection that income from rents will eventually exceed the monthly mortgage payment by several hundred dollars may or may not be fantasy.  They're certainly not doing so at present.  If the City/County and local health care providers decide to put a sobering station on the first floor, that could bring in a substantial sum, but when that would happen, and how long it would last, is anyone's guess.

"I can confirm that MWVCAA did have OHCS approval prior to acquiring the site"

In Part 3, we will discuss the affirmative steps OHCS took to misrepresent and cover up the true facts in their handling of the Golden ARCHES Project, and who is really paying.



[10/29/17 Update from the Deputy Director's October report to the BOD:]