Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mayor Vows Not to Surrender as Plan Thuds

Cmr. Carlson presents certificate to frmr Mayor Peterson
Last night, the City Council received a 15-minute presentation on the work of the Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative Task Force over the past year from Commissioner Janet Carlson, who concluded by presenting a certificate of appreciation to former Mayor and co-chair Anna Peterson, as former Councilor and Task Force member Warren Bednarz looked on.

During the presentation, Carlson commented on some of the many recommendations contained in the Task Force's 27-page strategic plan, and took credit for Mountain West's efforts to develop affordable housing. 
One of the things that we've already accomplished in this particular area is that Mountain West received a $5 million dollar grant from Oregon Housing and Community Services and is committed to developing several hundred units of affordable housing over the the next several years.
Also mentioned were a transitional housing project of Marion County and the shelter relocation planned by Union Gospel Mission, both of which preexisted the Task Force.  Carlson even seemed to take credit for the City's having made shelter space available to UGM when its capacity was reduced, and for the Marion County DA's embrace of harm reduction principles, although the Task Force was responsible for none of these things.

"The Task Force spent a lot of time talking about what we call 'pivoting to implementation'", Carlson told the Council, "What we have talked about, and what we are working on, is hiring a project manager and creating a leadership team, which would consist of the people which represent the key partner organizations...we will also be convening people at the program manager level, and then the line staff, which are already convened through the Emergency Housing Network, so we are believing we could tag on to that."  

Marion County has set aside $40,000 for this project.  Steve Powers and Chuck Bennett have told us they can identify another $40,000 to jump start this position.  City of Keizer is not committed yet, but is looking for another five.  And then we are working with the Council of Governments.  We are working with their board...ultimately this position would be folded in to their regular staff...The first step is to create a memorandum of collaboration among all the different entities...[and then] prioritizing strategies, looking for the low-hanging fruit, taking the ones that are more difficult and putting them into a project management plan and moving forward. 

Following the certificate-of-appreciation presentation and another warm thank-you to Warren Bednarz, Carlson turned the floor back to the Mayor, who expressed his gratitude to everyone for their work, saying the City was already working "on aspects of this that we will talk about further with Council as time passes, but this is going to be a tremendous undertaking."    

"I will tell you, the one thing I like about [taking] this [work on] is, we're not going to surrender to this problem, and say, the only place to live is in a tent, in a park, in the mud.  We are not going there.  So, we are going to treat our neighbors without homes with dignity, and with real care", he said, and then  proceeded on with the evening's agenda.

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