Tuesday, January 24, 2017

PTTF: Meeting 10

Karen Ray returns for the Task Force's last meeting in 2 weeks,  Commissioner Carlson informed the Task Force during the last few minutes of Monday night's meeting.

(And what that's gonna cost?**)

Whatever "pivoting to implementation" may mean to the other Task Force members, Carlson's determined to do it.  She's got one plan "on the shelf", so she doesn't want two, 'cause it looks bad.  So, she's got to find some organization to take on the task of implementing the MWHITF's Strategic Plan.  But who?    

After directing the assembly to her January 4 memo, "Implementation Structure Concept" (the last two pages of this document), Carlson told us,
We're starting to talk with some organizations about where this home might be for this new governance structure, so I'm just going to whet your appetite for what we'll be talking about next time, because Karen Ray will be back to actually facilitate our last meeting [on February 7].  [At that meeting] We will be adopting our strategic plan, which Jan Calvin [Marion County Reentry Initiative Project Manager] is helping us put together.  It will include all the recommendations we've voted on so far, plus the few that we said we were going to bring back and work on next time, and any other 'at large' recommendations [except the ones put forward by CANDO and the Veterans Committee].  We have [also] tasked the PACE Team to take a look at other communities' plans to end homelessness...and may have a few recommendations to add in, based on what their analysis tells us, and then we'll spend the balance of the meeting talking about pivoting to implementation.
If you weren't there, it might be hard to imagine just how unappetizing her colleagues must have found the prospect of yet another meeting to consider pages and pages of incomprehensible issue briefs and recommendations, after they'd listened for the better part of two hours as Commissioner Carlson and others "explain" each of the 20 recommendations that had come before them (they adopted all except 33, 34 and 41, which she/they sent back to be "reworked").        

Neither of the co-chairs gave any hint who, among those they'd spoken to, had shown any willingness to have their organization play the role of "home" (or "backbone", as it was originally referred to) (or, "Switzerland", as Mayor Clark put it).  Might someone on the Task Force be willing?  Hard to say.  Of the eighteen members still listed on the letterhead, only nine were present for most of the meeting -- not even enough for a quorum.  Might someone in the audience, a provider perhaps, be willing?  Not too many of them, either.  Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network?  (TJ was there.)  Salem Leadership Foundation?  (Herm Boes was there.)  Salem Health? (Sharon Heuer was there.)  Conclusion:  there just doesn't seem to be anyone willing to take this on.

If in fact no one has come forward, this explains why Carlson's memo makes no mention of a "backbone org", but calls instead for "participating jurisdictions" to create a "housing commission" and share the cost of a "project manager" to do all the "work."

But, do we really need another public body like the Task Force

Salem of course has two housing commissions, one oversees the Salem Housing Authority and is advised by the Salem Housing Advisory Committee, and the other oversees the delivery of homeless and other social services.  These two commissions are -- already, now, today -- doing many of the things covered by Task Force recommendations.  They have their own plans and programs.  They provide services for both Salem and Keizer residents, and they cooperate with Polk and Marion Counties.  Similarly, Polk County has West Valley Housing Authority, the Grand Ronde Housing Department, and the Polk Community Development Corporation -- and Marion County has a housing authority.  All of them have their own plans and programs.   

What, then, is so compelling about the Task Force recommendations that they require a separate commission to oversee their implementation?  This new commission would have to collaborate with the existing commissions on many items -- how, then, would a new commission not be just a further complication and expense, another layer of bureaucracy?  Why not give the recommendations to an existing commission or housing authority, and let them decide what is worthy of their time and resources?

It comes down to this: if the "participating jurisdictions" truly care about homelessness and want to "do" something, they should empower the agencies they have, not create new ones.

"Why indeed".  -SS 

All this concern over implementation assumes, without evidence, that the Task Force's recommendations are based on solid data and "proven strategies."  But one has only to look at them to see that this is very far from the case.  Some of the recommendations are worthwhile, but many are not, nor are they comprehensive, well thought out, integrated, or strategic, or any things like that.  So, to the extent that Commissioner Carlson or Karen Ray are afraid that the new plan will sit on a shelf, just like the old plan, they might ask themselves, "Why?".

There was no public comment.  The next and supposedly final meeting takes place in two weeks, on Tuesday, February 7.          

**We're betting the February meeting will cost $5K.  We've asked Marion County for a copy of the new contract, as we did the first, which expired 12/31/16.  The reason we're guessing $5K is that Carlson asked Ray last September during negotiations, "any way you could scale the proposal down" to $20,000, which was "the cap for the sole source", and Ray agreed, while offering to return under a separate arrangement to assist with the "pivot to implementation."  So far, the County has not responded to our request.  Karen Ray's services at the last meeting will apparently be covered by the existing contract, whose expiration date was extended from 12/31/16 to 2/28/17.

[Update 1/28/17: added the ** and this link to Willamette Wakeup's report on the meeting.]
[Update 2/1/17: edited the ** to reflect new information obtained from the County.] 

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