Sunday, April 30, 2017

News from the Continuum

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The Salem Housing Authority (SHA) this month completed the purge/update of its Housing Choice Voucher (aka Section 8) waitlist that we reported on awhile back.  As expected, the waitlist has been reduced substantially -- from ~9,000 to ~3,660, and the wait has been reduced from >3 years to around 2 years.  That reduction, along with the proposed modifications to the PHA plan, is likely to inspire more households to put their names on the list, and  cause the list to grow again.

The proposed PHA Plan modifications are intended to lower some of the barriers that low income households in this area have faced in trying to access public housing assistance.  They include standardization of criminal history criteria, changing the definition of "family" to include an individual person, and changing the waitlist preferences from a points-based system, to date and time plus local preferences.

SHA is not proposing to modify  existing local preferences, which include referred veterans, chronically disabled homeless individuals, households victimized by domestic violence, and homeless households (see left).        

The Statesman Journal is reporting that Home for Heroes, WestCare's 30-bed facility for homeless veterans, located where the former Salem Outreach Shelter used to be before it closed in 2013, will be opening "soon."  It appears that referrals to the program will come from The ARCHES Project, a program of the MWVCAA.

ROCC meets monthly by video-conference.  This is a typical meeting.

In other SHA news, Pamala Garrick, SHA Grants Coordinator, was elected to the ROCC board of directors at its April meeting.  At that meeting, the ROCC, which now appears to be calling itself the "OR-505 Balance of State CoC", also voted to adopt "basic HMIS policies" to support implementation of a system of coordinated entry in each of its regions by HUD's January 23, 2018 deadline.  Judging by the directors' comments and questions, during the meeting, there is not universal enthusiasm or buy-in for this project, which is supposed to begin May 1st, and basically just expands the system being built  by MWVCAA and Jimmy Jones for Marion and Polk Counties.  In fact, it's not entirely clear whether everyone on the board even understands what a coordinated entry system is.  Not surprising, given so few seem to understand what the ROCC is.  This is Keizer Mayor Clark and City Councilor Kim Freeman, both members of the MWHI Task Force, talking about the ROCC during a recent work session on the MWHI Strategic Plan (at ~36:00):

Mayor Clark: Talking about the continuum of care, and this is working with the uh, uh, Marion Polk CCO, uh, [makes face] help me with the acronym.

Kim Freeman:  Are you thinking ROCC?  With Jo?

Mayor Clark: Yeah.

Kim Freeman: I know it as ROCC, so, [pause] regional...

Mayor Clark:  That's rural, that's the rural, uhm...

Kim Freeman: Yeah.  
Keeping up with things is not always easy.  City staff seem to be having a hard time keeping up with the City's Strategic Planning Initiative process.  This is perhaps understandable, given there's never before been a City-wide initiative quite like it, and the process moved into committee (workgroups) just as the City's new website was going live.  But, information-sharing is crucial to trust-building and buy-in.  There's really no excuse for not sharing meeting materials before, or at least at meetings.  Even less excuse for not sharing afterward when asked nicely to do so, but that's been our experience with the workgroup on Affordable Housing, Social Services and Homelessness.  To be fair, SHA staff turned in meeting materials and the workgroup's recommendations promptly, expecting they would be promptly posted, but they weren't.  Why staff weren't willing to share except by posting through the website is anyone's guess, but it seems unreasonable and counter to the strategic planning mission. 

Meeting materials for all workgroups were finally posted late Friday afternoon.  Workgroup  recommendations, which will be considered at the upcoming City Council work session (next Saturday, May 6, 8:30 to noon), have not yet been posted.  The recommendations should be, must be, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, as the strategic plan will define the City's commitments, especially its commitment to its homeless housing and services plans, for the next five to seven years. [Update 5/3/17: the staff report and links to documents containing workgroup recommendations can be found here.]

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