Revised: January 2019
By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston
The Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (MWVCAA) is saying the legislature has allocated $150K toward building out the sobering center in their building at 615 Commercial Street NE, "with a promise secured for another $250K." See here at page 12.
Last January, the Oregon Housing Department (OHCS) approved the use of a total of $495,856 in State Homeless Assistance Program (SHAP ) and Emergency Housing Assistance (EHA) Phase I, II and III funds for renovations. With the $487,000 used for the down payment, that's a total of $982,856 in state housing funds that MWVCAA plans to put toward its new building, with zero people housed.
In addition, MWVCAA received $300,000 for renovations from the City of Salem's Community Development Block Grant.
And, just last week, MWVCAA's Community Resources Program Director Jimmy Jones stated publicly (audio here at about 1:15), that MWVCAA has asked OHCS to approve the use of another $250,000 in EHA Phase III funds to make the balloon payment due in 2018. That would bring the total SHAP and EHA funds going toward brick and mortar to $1,232,856. (OHCS does not permit the use of EHA funds for debt service.) (See letter from OHCS, below).
Jones told OHCS last summer the renovations would cost "less than $100K", and be complete by November 2017.
|The shelter space before renovation.|
The plan for Phase III is uncertain. It might involve office space, or "respite beds" or the sobering center, probably depending on whether the City and Marion County can persuade Salem Health to up the ante to cover the cost of ongoing sobering center operations, which seems doubtful, based on what we've been hearing.
The City and County still need to come up with commitments to cover the anticipated annual operating costs, which the City says will be between $600K to $700K. The sobering center project is popular with the Marion County Sheriff's Department and the Mayor, and has the support of the Salem City Council. What's not clear is what makes a sobering station the best use of the considerable resources it will require, especially as no return on investment's been identified.