Friday, November 24, 2017

11/21/17 Minutes

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

Revised: January 2019

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

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 funds 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's (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, there will be $225,000 available for social services (about $25,000 more than last year).  See here for details. 

The feasibility of reforming the local CoC (consisting of Salem/Marion & Polk Counties), 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.

Preliminary Recommendations - 7/25/17 PP Presentation
The Affordable Housing, Social Services and Homelessness Strategic Planning Work Group looked at the local CoC issue and enthusiastically recommended re-formation as one of several "approaches."

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 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 (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).

We are told that what's  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.

Powers, along with the Mid Willamette Valley Council of Governments (COG)'s Executive Director, Sean O'Day, Marion County Commissioner Carlson and the mayors of Keizer, Monmouth and Independence, worked up a proposal whereby 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").  

Exhibit C of the IGA
The COG accepted the proposal (revenue-neutral to COG) and authorized Mr. O'Day to execute an intergovernmental agreement with the participating bodies.  It's now up to them to follow through.

Even if they do all follow through in a timely fashion and a qualified person is hired per plan by January 2018, the CoC issue seems likely to be buried in the extensive "scope of work" described in Exhibit C of the agreement (at left).

A costly way to mire a simple strategy in bureaucratic mud.

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.  Running a local CoC would be far easier than what's being done to avoid it.  As one city official put it, "If we [mess] this up, it'll be the easiest thing we ever [messed] up."

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

News from the Continuum

Revised: January 2019

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

WVCH, the local CCO, is quietly letting providers know who's receiving 2017 "Transformation Grants."   Marion County says 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, Santiam Service Integration, and Salem Health will each receive $15,000 for their teams.
The Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (MWVCAA) expects to receive around $65,000 to hire a Director of Co-Location Services and Grant Management.  This position "will be responsible for managing the co-location services with partner agencies" (Easter Seals and Oregon Health Authority) 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.

The MWVCAA board recently approved hiring Jerry Stevens (Linked In profile says he is, or was, a "Lead Guide" for the Salem Leadership Foundation) and ProFund Fundraising Solutions to help them raise unrestricted funds through something called a "golf marathon."  See last page here.  

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, reportedly has completed the initial drawings, and they include a sobering center.  See here at page 20.  MWVCAA says the drawings are now being "moved forward to partners for consideration."  

The sobering center "partners" are believed to be the City of Salem, Marion County, Salem Hospital, and probably Bridgeway.  The local CCO, WVCH, should be in the conversation, 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 -- one that includes treatment options, not just referrals.  This disagreement may have contributed to the significant delay in re-opening the ARCHES day shelter.  MWVCAA is still pretending that the day shelter is open.

from the CRP Director's October Report to the BOD

All MC Homeless
OHCS has a new, interactive, PITC "dashboard" that compares by county the numbers from 2015 and 2017 (years that HUD mandates a count of unsheltered homeless). 

Mayor Bennett 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").  He seemed not to be all that keen to form a "task force", especially if there wasn't more interest being shown by the business community.  For now, he said, businesses and individuals with "quality of life" issues should contact their neighborhood associations.

Although it's not being discussed publicly, we've heard that the City is 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.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

10/17/17 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

The Golden ARCHES Project - Part 3

Revised: January 2019

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

When the Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (MWVCAA) initially applied to the Oregon Housing Department (OHCS) for Emergency Housing Assistance (EHA) and State Homeless Assistance Program (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.

Funny, then that we can find no one outside MWVCAA who knew about, much less participated in formulating MWVCAAs work plans.  For certain, the community wasn't asked about the decision to close the ARCHES day shelter in June, or reallocate such a large proportion of MWVCAA's housing and homeless assistance funds 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 buy a building and in June 2017 after they decided to buy.  As you can see, by the time of the closing in late June, the total EHA-NEW allocation had increased by about $30K.  You can also see that the building purchase required substantial sacrifices in all other program areas.          

Back in October 2016, when the Housing Stability Council (HSC) 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.  In in preparing for that report, on August 28, OCHS staff emailed Jimmy Jones, asking him 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."

ARCHES is <2,500 feet west of OHCS
Jones didn't tell OHCS that renovations were not under way, or that the shelter was not in operation, both of which were true.   

ARCHES is less than 2,500 feet from OHCS;  less than a ten-minute walk.

The August 30 report to the Housing Stability Council falsely stated that MWVCAA had submitted an acquisition application, and falsely stated that the ARCHES day shelter had "doubled its daily capacity by 100%" [sic].  It gave the false impression the day shelter was in operation and omitted any mention of the gross irregularities that occurred in the purchase transaction.

The only hint that OHCS's 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 August 30 report was presented and received.  We requested an administrative review decision on the purchase.  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, showing that it was not true.  We asked for a meeting, and were told one would be scheduled.  No one ever contacted us to schedule a meeting.  

So, that is the story of the Golden ARCHES Project.  Our notes on the public records received in this matter pasted below, in chronological order.  Anyone who'd like to have an electronic copy of the records themselves, just drop us a line.  We'll be glad to share.