Friday, October 26, 2018

MWVCAA Promotes CRP Director to Head of Agency

Revised: January 2019


By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

Jimmy Jones to replace Jon Reeves at MWVCAA
The MWVCAA Board of Directors agreed Thursday night to promote CRP Director Jimmy Jones to Executive Director.  Jones had been acting as Interim Executive Director since May 22, 2018, following the sudden departure of his predecessor Jon Reeves amidst financial and regulatory troubles at the agency.  MWVCAA has an annual budget of roughly $30M, mostly in state and federal grants.  

According to MWVCAA's HR Director, Helena Haytas, Jones was chosen from a field of 30 minimally qualified applicants, 8 of whom were given a personal interview, 2 of whom -- Jones and Sheri Boelter of Billings, MT -- became finalists.  Sources say the search committee wanted to stop the process at that point and recommend Jones, but the BOD insisted the process continue as planned, with a second interview and a community "Meet and Greet."       

Jones is not your typical social worker.  He's an academic who found a calling later in life than is perhaps usual.  His main strengths in this competition were his incumbency and his dedication to the work of The ARCHES Project, which he took charge of in March of 2017, immediately thereafter  becoming involved in a scheme to use state homeless assistance funds to purchase a large office building on Commercial Street, and turn it into a "resource center."  

Complaints trigger scrutiny...
Unlike Jones, Boelter has "actual experience" as a non-profit executive director.  After seven years with the Community Action Agency in Billings as "Chief of Development and Planning Officer", she was chosen to head the Tumbleweed Runaway Program in Billings.  She left that position in 2015 under a cloud (allegations that she may have inflated or even  fabricated numbers), however.  (Her blog states that she left for medical reasons.)  In 2016, Boelter was hired to direct Young Families Early Head Start in Billings (at a greatly reduced salary, according to YFEHS's Form 990), but she recently left that position as well, for reasons unknown.  Those two departures, and the fact that neither Tumbleweed nor YFEHS had a budget exceeding $1.5M, may have leveled the playing field between the two candidates.

It's not particularly reassuring that an agency with financial and regulatory issues would short-list two individuals who've been credibly charged with engaging in sharp practice in pursuit of their professional goals.  However, it's possible the search committee didn't know about the complaints against Boelter.  The committee did, however, know about the purchase of the Commercial Street property.  Asked why the BOD should overlook his conduct in that purchase, Jones responded,

I do not think they should.  I was two months into that job and given a task to execute so I executed it.  We were less than 90 days from losing $500,000 so it was executed clumsily and with a great deal of optimism, when a healthy dose of skepticism would have better served us.  That plan was approved by OHCS and we have cobbled together the renovation costs, just not with the speed we hoped.  

Call it optimism, or call it willful blindness.  Whatever you call it, it's not a desirable characteristic in an executive director, certainly not an executive director of a multi-million dollar, quasi-government agency.  Consider what's happened to MWVCAA over the past three years, as Jon Reeves (and the BOD) have "optimistically" failed to provide a "healthy dose of skepticism" in the conduct of its financial affairs.

So, is there any reason to hope that Jones as E.D. will be willing to control his "optimism"?  Maybe.  In his closing remarks to the community last week, Jones said he had had no intention of applying for the position of E.D. when he "moved over to the main office" as Interim.

But, working over there, I came to believe, over time, that our agency had struggled...And I came to believe that most of the things our agency had struggled with I understood and could fix going forward.  So, the best way to protect my work...and the people that I serve, in the end, I decided to apply for this position.      

Admitting publicly that "our agency has struggled" and needs fixing, when the agency itself has never done so*, is a good sign, even though it was also optimistic, even risky, considering the competition had not been decided.

*The institutional blindness is so profound that the search committee didn't even inform Boelter of  ODE CNP's recent "serious deficiency" determination against the agency.

Below is the complete statement issued by the Tumbleweed board in March 2015, as published here (8KPAX, 3/20/15)):

The Tumbleweed Board of Directors has done a thorough investigation into allegations regarding our Executive Director, Sheri Boelter. Our volunteer board has spent hundreds of work hours investigating these allegations, including interviewing former and current employees and reviewing data. Yellowstone Youth Crisis Network conducted its own review of our files based on these accusations and found everything to be in order - except that it appeared that data on youth homelessness was actually under-reported. The board found no evidence that any staff member had been directed or encouraged to inflate data about at-risk and homeless youth. We found no evidence (and are aware of no claim) that anyone has misappropriated any money or that any discrepancies in data affected any grants. Appropriate actions have been taken from our findings, and we have used this opportunity to improve some policies, including policies on how data is reported and updated. All other actions taken by the board will remain private in order to comply with employee privacy rights. The board continues to believe Sheri Boelter to be the right person running Tumbleweed, and she has the support of the board going forward. We are ready to return our focus to supporting Sheri and her staff in serving the runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth of Billings. As the board investigated these allegations, one conclusion we have reached is that the need is real and is under-served in our community. We are in midst of major renovations to our facility, paid for in part by the 2014 banquet, to expand our drop-in center services and hours. We will welcome the community to an open house to see our new drop-in center and the continued work of our program when construction is completed.

For more about the assertion that, notwithstanding the statement of board support, Boelter left "under a cloud", see Kemmick, E. "Boelter is out as director of Tumbleweed Program" (31 December 2015, Last Best News) and Brouwer, D. "As Tumbleweed board stands by director, questions still remain." (19 March 2015, Billings Gazette). 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Chipping in

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

PDX:  Billionaires challenge each other on social media to do more about homelessness.

Salem:  Mayor issues press release asking residents to "step up" and "join the effort."
Yeah, it's not a horse race, but the Mayor burst out of the virtual gate in 2017 with an ambitious plan to address the City's outsized chronic homelessness problem -- the City's first true Housing First program.  And, since then, he seems to have grown a bit shy on the subject of homelessness.  After a couple of recent Willamette Wake Up radio interviews focusing on the situation downtown, he quit his monthly gig there.  Could it be he felt unprepared to deal with such a complex subject?  Or, could it be he didn't like being quoted?  We asked, but he declined to answer.  

Maybe the Mayor's retreat had to do with his not wanting to be asked about a recent resident satisfaction survey by the City of Salem.  As we reported earlier, that survey found a majority of residents were unsatisfied with the "City’s coordination of social services to serve needs of homeless in our community."  The City responded to that finding by -- wait for it -- issuing a press release that made a subtle change in the way it described the duties of the regional coordinator hired by the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments.  

Original description on the City website: "Following the recommendation of the Mid-Valley Homeless Initiative, the City of Salem contributed $45,000 toward the hiring of a regional coordinator at the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments.  This person is responsible for planning and coordinating programs and projects to prevent and reduce homelessness with our region’s cities, counties, agencies, and services providers." 

City's press release description: "Following the recommendation of the Mid-Valley Homeless Initiative, the City of Salem contributed $45,000 toward the hiring of a regional coordinator at the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments.  Under the direction of Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative leadership, this person researches best practices and coordinates homelessness reduction efforts with the region's city, county and other local governments."

In fairness, both versions overstate what's being done.  Compare the regional coordinator's one-year work plan.  Along the same lines, the press release states, "Salem is taking a collaborative approach and adapting best practices to fit our community."  No explanation, just the bare assertion.  But, if you're gonna brag about collaboratively altering a best practice (e.g., Housing First), you need to explain somehow what it is you changed and why, and prove it's still effective (e.g., the Winnipeg approach).       

The press release quotes the Mayor as saying "We have built a strong foundation to address homelessness" and states, "Your individual involvement plays a vital part of reducing homelessness in Salem."  But is either of those statements true?  Less than a month ago, the Mayor was struggling to articulate the City's homelessness policy.  Now, all of a sudden, we have a strong foundation?  And, aren't we way past the point of calling for individual involvement?  We're not saying we shouldn't showcase Abel or Raul or Claire -- we're saying that a homelessness policy that's reliant on individual involvement for its effectiveness is not even a policy, it's just wishful thinking.  As Salem Breakfast on Bikes says about the transportation system, "What we need now is system change, not the individual actions of virtuous-minded individuals."

No community can end homelessness as long its leaders substitute policy for hollow phrases like, "Homelessness is all of our responsibility", and "we" just need "chip in", "step up" and "join the effort" because, in essence, "Anything Helps."  The proper response to community dissatisfaction with the City's coordination of social services is immediate, decisive, and sustainable action, like following through with recreating the Salem, Marion and Polk CoC to coordinate the delivery of homeless services, convening the Good Neighbor Partnership that the DHSTF recommended, and calling on religious and business leaders to pledge financial support for HRAP.         

The City Council decided last year to embark on a process to revise Salem's Comprehensive Plan, which is supposed to guide how the City grows.  Guess whether the current plan includes a section on homelessness.  The City's "plan" for homelessness is a ten year-old document whose sole purpose is to have something to cite in submissions to HUD.  In other words, there is no comprehensive plan,  policy, set of guidelines or reference points for decision-making on matters affecting homeless services delivery, e.g., shelter siting, other than what is in the zoning code and Strategic Plan, which is pretty minimal.  That's why the City's always reacting to public pressure to "do something" and having to pull together task forces and work groups to try and figure something out, but the result often just confuses and angers people, politicians included, more.

The latest example is the non-public "feasibility meeting" called by Councilor Kaser and Mayor Bennett to consider a possible "organized camping" ordinance.  The meeting resulted in an unofficial, ad hoc decision to look at siting a low-barrier shelter somewhere away from downtown, not because "away from downtown" was, after due deliberation, determined to be the best place for single men and women struggling with substance abuse issues to be sheltered, but because that's where some politician prefers for them to be.  Not only was that a policy decision, it was a bad policy decision, from both a process and a substantive standpoint, and the community, including the homeless community, deserves better.  As Jeff Kositsky says, “You can’t solve homelessness by addressing housed people’s complaints, you solve homelessness by addressing homeless people’s needs.”  Just "anything" doesn't help Salem's homeless residents. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

10/16/18 Minutes

Members: Deb Comini
Organizations: Raleigh Kirshman, Union Gospel Mission; Katya Goloviznina, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce
City and County Representatives: David Smith, Jennifer Hingston and John Gibson, SPD
Guests: none

The regular meeting of the CANDO Board of Directors was called to order at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 16, 2018, at the First Christian Church at 685 Marion Street NE, Salem.  The Chair and Secretary-Treasurer were present.  

Sarah Owens’s motion to postpone indefinitely the motion to recommend that the City Council retain Winter Street SE between Ferry and Bellevue in the Pay to Park District passed unanimously.  By unanimous consent, the minutes of the July and September meetings were approved.

Councilor Kaser reported that Willamette University had withdrawn its objections to including Winter Street SE between Ferry and Bellevue in the Pay to Park District (see below), and mentioned a few items coming up on the Council calendar, including the hearing on a proposed ordinance banning certain single-use plastic bags, the town hall and subsequent work session on the Council Policy Agenda, and a public hearing on increasing solid waste fees.  She also reported that she planned to ask Council to direct staff to draft an ordinance requiring closed captioning on televisions in public spaces.

Following up her report last month that she was at the beginning stages of looking at a possible “supervised camping” ordinance, Councilor Kaser reported having held a 90-minute “feasibility meeting” that included the City Manager Steve Powers, Housing Authority Administrator Andy Wilch, SPD Chief Jerry Moore and Deputy Chief Skip Miller, Parks and Transportation Services Manager Mark Bechtel, Mayor Chuck Bennett, SHA Client Services Manager Kellie Battaglia, MWVCAA Interim Director Jimmy Jones, and, from the community,  Neal Kern (CANDO) and Audrey Schackel (St. Mark Lutheran Church).  Councilor Kaser reported that the idea of allowing camping in Marion Square Park was “shot down immediately.”  She said if the City were to allow such a project to go forward somewhere else, it should focus on homeless women.  However, the impact would be very small considering the resources it would require.  Alternatively, a low-barrier shelter using the same resources would probably have greater impact.  The City Manager is looking at the former Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility (2450 Strong Rd SE) and the former K-Mart building (2470 Mission St. SE) as possible low-barrier shelter sites. Councilor Kaser said she was interested in having shelters “not concentrated downtown”, and, in response to a question about cost, that “the City shouldn’t run the shelter.”  [The City ultimately decided not to proceed with the project.]

Officer David Smith reported that the Downtown Enforcement Team was in its “transition season”, when they’re spending less time dealing with problems at Marion Square Park, and more time with residents bedding down in the parkades and entryways downtown and the affected businesses.  He said they’d also been going down to the flood-prone areas along the river where there were an “extensive number” of camps, including one with a two-story wooden-pallet structure.  He said that, despite rumors of greater numbers, they had posted only 10-15 camps with at most 2 people per camp, and were still in the process of cleaning up.  He recognized that such actions do force some people into the downtown.  He said the team was getting a lot of mileage out of its utility vehicle, patrolling Minto Brown Island and Riverfront Parks.  He asked everyone several times to encourage people to enjoy the parks with a buddy and pepper spray.
In public comments, Katya Goloviznina said there would be a Salem-Keizer School District Boundary Adjustment Open House on October 30 from 6 to 8p at CTEC.  
Sarah Owens’s motions to cancel the December meeting, and to adopt a resolution supporting the creation of a Good Neighbor Partnership as recommended by the Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force passed unanimously, subject to the Board’s approval of the the final form of the resolution.  

There being no other business before the board, the Chair adjourned the meeting at 6:55 p.m.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

TSA Launches Salem-Keizer Collaboration

Revised: January 2019

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

Ashley Shaw (HOME YRC), Dan Wms (TSA), Bryce Peterson (Salem Hlth)
Last week, Salvation Army Major Dan Williams stood in front of a huge banner sporting the North Salem SIT's new name and logo and told 60 or so attendees that TSA had been "looking forward to this [launch] a little over a month" (Salem Health announced TSA's involvement on August 17, 2018).

Williams said he was having lunch one day with Salem Health's Bryce Peterson, who was looking for an agency to take over the North Salem SIT.  He said he "told Bryce, 'Why not us? Do you think there would be a conflict of interest, or anything else, with us doing it?'  And he [Bryce] said, 'No'.  And I said, 'Neither do I'." 

Williams said he told Bryce,

Why don't we throw our hat in the ring?  We'll hold the first meeting, we'll talk about the direction that we think that we're going to head and the direction that we're going, some of the things we've talked about and started, and go from there?  And, if everybody's in agreement, then we will take it on, and we will move forward with it.

Williams said he'd been on Salem Health's steering committee "toward the end" (he attended one of 15 meetings) and that he'd spoken with Brent Demoe, whom he referred to as the "founder of the SIT program in Polk County" (Donna Middleton initiated SI in Polk County, years before Demoe arrived on the scene).  Williams said Brent had told him that "the SIT program" 

[W]orks really well in a rural area.  It works really well in a smaller area.  But in Salem, because Salem is so big, it wasn't quite -- holding to one catchment area, holding to one really difficult to do because then you can only help people in that one area. 

So, Williams said, he put together a group, consisting of Bryce, TSA's Social Services Director Jason Ramos, Angela Parada from Salem Housing Authority, Ashley Shaw from MWVCAA's HOME YRC, Cassandra Hutchinson of NWSDS, Janet Herb from DHS and Kristin and Memo from NWHS, and they decided, as TSA "couldn't really continue to run this as a SIT program because of the criteria and what the SIT program criteria was, that you had to be in one catchment area to do that", to change the name to Salem-Keizer Collaboration and expand the service area to all of Salem and Keizer, except for West Salem, which has its own SIT.

Other than the name change and expanded service area, Williams said, SKC will be "keeping the same criteria as the SIT program."

The only difference between us [SKC] and what the SIT was set up to do is that we're going to expand the area.  This doesn't mean to say we can't change it at some point...I didn't want to walk in this room and all of sudden change it on you in mid-stream.  I want to be able to talk and look at it and see what we need to do.

Translation:  he has already decided to make changes but wants to make it look like they're coming from the partners.

I'm going to send out some questions on a Survey Monkey...that we would like for you to respond to.  So, as we move forward, we develop this in a way that works for all of us.  Because here's the thing.  I want you here, in this room.  I need you, and you need each other to be in this room together, and the only way that we can do that, and to help people that are in need, is if we're in here.

Williams said Memo had asked him "how long is Salvation Army in this for?  And I looked at him and said, as long as you are.  [Pause.] We're in it for the long haul.  I was asked if we were in it only for as long as the money lasts?  No.  We're in it for the long haul."  "But", he added,

It depends on what happens today.  If we say as a group today that this is a meeting that means a lot to you, if you want to continue under the name Salem-Keizer Collaboration, no longer a SIT program, then I need to know that.  Because if we do that, then we have a lot of plans moving forward that we need to get started on.  The [fiscal] agent for this will remain the money never comes into our bookkeeping...So I need to know -- here's the thing -- see this beautiful banner back here that Salem Health got for us?  What I want to know is, if we're in, we need to be on this...I want to put your logo, your agency on this banner to say, we're in this together...If it is [something you want to do], then we're going to hire somebody to do's not going to be anybody on staff right now, we're going to hire somebody to run this program for us...We have a grant for the first year, and we're going to have goals.  Every quarter, I told the grantee [sic], that we would get them goals...and we would give them a report to tell them where we're at with this.  And, what the goals are going to be is, how many lives did we touch in this room and how many agencies showed up every month to work together...Those are our goals...[If you agree], we will be moving forward with hiring somebody, we will be...getting a URL, so that that way the web page will go directly to...[TSA's] social service page...we want that person before we get to the next meeting...So, are we in?"  

Noises of mild assent emanated from a few people on the right side of the room.  "Okay", Williams said, "then we will be moving forward with that."

The North Salem SIT started out with $3,500 in General, or Team, funds (courtesy PH Tech), $19,408 from the Early Learning Hub (ELH funds are available to benefit children under the age of 6, including children in utero) and a share of the $15,000 Willamette Valley Community Health grant to Salem Health. 

Williams told the group there was $3,178.83 left from WVCH (the agenda had that amount listed as the General Fund balance) and $17,222.29 left from the Early Learning Hub.  Williams asked if there were any questions, "I can't answer."  There were no questions.  The meeting moved on to resource questions.

We asked Salem Health about the WVCH/General Fund balance.  We learned that Shangri-La, the fiscal agent for the Salem Health teams, held all three teams' "general balance" funds and the $15,000 WVCH grant funds in a single account.  All three teams also shared a debit card account.  To calculate what amount should be transferred to each team, Salem Health divided the ending balance on the joint account ($7,576.48) and the ending balance on the debit card account ($2,182.34) three ways, and added to or subtracted from that total each team's book ending balance ($751.70 for Woodburn, $1,013.14 for N. Marion, and -$74.11 for N. Salem).  Based on those calculations, Salem Health transferred funds to each team as follows:  $4,004.64 to Woodburn, $4,266.08 to N. Marion, and $3,178.83 to N. Salem.          

A recap of the meeting sent out the day after the meeting characterized it this way.

The afternoon was filled with great positive energy, lots of laughs, impactful discussions, and incredible networking!  Much feedback of support and encouragement for the Salem Keizer Collaboration team continues to grow in order to impact those in our neighboring communities!

Trigger warning:  If this meeting or its description here left you feeling hopeful, grateful, or good, what follows could be disappointing.

The meeting we attended was not filled with "great positive energy, lots of laughs, impactful discussions [or] incredible networking."  Williams had filled his presentation with TSA/Kroc promos, complete with Kroc Center day pass and coffee mug giveaways, program guides, scholarships, invitations to "Kroctoberfest" and the "Red Kettle Kickoff", right down to the altar call of "Are we in?"  His audience was polite, some were grateful, but more than a few seemed reserved, even skeptical, and here's probably why. 

TSA proposes The Salem-Keizer Collaboration as the successor to the North Salem SIT pilot.  Not to rub it in, but one does need to keep in mind that, from a service integration standpoint, the pilot was a failure.  Knowing that, what is TSA's plan for success?  What will that look like, and how will it be measured?  Surely, it can't just be the number of people served, or how many agencies show up?     

Williams says both that SKC is "no longer a SIT program" and that "the only difference between us [SKC] and what the SIT was set up to do is that we're going to expand the area."  So which is it?  Is TSA attempting service integration, or isn't it? 

We know from experience that service integration is not as easy as it might look.  At a minimum, success requires a program coordinator with
  1. significant local social service experience, relationships, and knowledge, 
  2. the necessary skill set, 
  3. administrative support, 
  4. hours sufficient to meet demand.
Meetings are important, but service integration occurs primarily outside the meetings.  One of the reasons the North Salem SIT failed was Salem Health's reliance on the naive belief that "SIT magic" just happens in meetings, when in reality it is the result of the skill and hard work of a qualified coordinator in between meetings.  Williams did not say whether TSA plans to hire a "meeting facilitator", as Salem Health did, or whether they will be looking for a full-time, qualified coordinator.       

The "Salem-Keizer Collaborative" Oct 3, Kroc Center
Based on what was said at this first meeting, it would seem that TSA really doesn't have much of a plan, unless one considers "we [will] develop this in a way that works for all of us" to be a plan.

Such a plan might work for a relatively small group whose members attend consistently, but not a large and fluid group like SKC, with its vastly expanded service area, is likely to be.

Again, we know from experience that a room of 60+ people is not the most collegial setting, nor is it conducive to group decision-making or problem solving.  One can't even read the name tents on the side opposite, or be heard without a microphone, in a group that large.

So, given all the limitations of a large group, why did TSA decide to expand?  The obvious answer is convenience.  One meeting of service providers instead of six, potentially.  Will the trade-off -- losing the community orientation, the unifying focus on the local schools, the deep involvement of school counselors, area churches and neighborhood groups -- be worth it?  Can the size problem be overcome by splitting into SLF-type "action teams" at some point during the meeting?  Maybe.  But, why bring together 60+ social workers, only to split them up again?

If convenience is paramount, why not forget the meeting, put those admin dollars toward direct aid, and just send every funding request through for a vote "as is", the way Salem Health ended up doing?  For that matter, why not forget the voting?  The team approves requests anyway.  That really would be convenient. 

The need for service integration in this community is not in dispute, and awareness of its absence has grown well beyond the professional community.  A recent survey of Salem residents found that a majority remain less than satisfied with the City’s coordination of social services to serve needs of homeless (emphasis added).  For years, the City (through its Housing Authority) has hosted monthly networking meetings of homeless/housing providers at the Union Gospel Men's Mission, and it hasn't been enough.  The community really doesn't need another networking meeting. 

Aside from TSA's not having much of a plan for SKC and the overall lack of transparency, we note the failure to:
  1. communicate directly with the team before October 2, 
  2. acknowledge and thank North Salem SIT coordinators Skye Hibbard-Swanson and Sheri Beehner, both of whom were present for the October 3d meeting,
  3. provide an accurate accounting of funds spent in 2017-2018 (the final ledger issued in June was neither complete nor accurate) (probably not practically possible, because of the way the accounts were kept),
  4. acknowledge and thank Salem Health for its continued financial support (we are hearing $25,000 for 2018-2019),
  5. provide instructions on how to submit funding requests,
  6. acknowledge and address satisfactorily the conflict of interest that exists when a partner/advocate takes on the role of coordinator (Bryce told us on August 21st that he had discussed the conflict issue with Williams and that Williams had assured him it would be dealt with properly.  He did not say he and Williams had agreed there was no conflict.)    

Friday, October 5, 2018

News from the Continuum

Revised: January 2019

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

Turnout for Hands Across the Bridge 2018 was strong, in the hundreds, perhaps five.  Music was strong, too.  Too much, maybe, for some in Marion Square Park.  Not everyone was there to celebrate recovery.  Some were just there, and they were not having a good time.

But a lot of them were.  Hear some of the voices in this Willamette Wake Up podcast, and check out more photos over on the Recovery Outreach Community Center's FB page.

Also in September, Salem added a "real news" source to its media mix.  Salem Reporter (accessible thru a few freebies, a 30-day free trial or by subscription) started publishing in earnest on September 10th.  The Statesman Journal initially accepted Salem Reporter ads but later canceled.

Salem Reporter met w/ non-profits for coffee in August
Its first week, Salem Reporter ran stories about schools (7), politics (1), city gov't (3), state gov't (2), business/crime and homelessness (1 each).  Alexander, R. "Salem puts roof over chronically homelessness, then adds care." (29 September 2018, Salem Reporter). 

The Statesman Journal ran a piece by Natalie Pate -- "Salem homeless risk early death, data show" (5 September 2018).  Aside from not providing or even citing to any actual data, it seemed to do a pretty fair job capturing what Jimmy Jones and Stephen Goins have said  about the barriers to recovering from homelessness and to developing an effective response to homelessness.  It featured a participant in Salem's Homeless Rental Assistance Program (HRAP) and mostly avoided sentimentality.

Still, there's lots of room for improvement in local coverage of this complex issue, and let's hope Salem Reporter will perform as promised and not avoid touchy inquiries, like why Mountain West, Inc., is using a notoriously hard-nosed company like Shelter Management, Inc. (SMI) to manage its heavily publicly subsidized $24M low-income housing project out on Portland Road ($4.9M LIFT, $8.9M LIHTC, ~$1.8M North Gateway URA, and $300K HOME) (see Bach, J. "Apartments give hope to families." (18 August 2018, Statesman Journal).  The project targets households with annual income < ~$34K, which is 60% of AMI.  As many providers have observed recently, it's an unusual low-income/homeless family that can meet SMI's standards. 

SMI is also managing Catholic Community Services' 18 low-income rental properties.

Readers will recall that, about a year ago, CCS took over St. Joseph Shelter, the only shelter serving families outside of Salem, and put it  "under a rehab program."  Soon, however, the shelter will be available only by referral from DHS and will give priority to those "at imminent risk of losing their children to foster care if they cannot find safe, drug-free housing."  Funding considerations appear to be influencing CCS's decision. 

Salvation Army property at 1950 Water Street
The Salvation Army announced Wednesday that they are "working on possibly building a family shelter in this community."

Dan Williams made the announcement at the first meeting of the Salem-Keizer Collaboration, which is the successor to the North Salem Service Integration Team, one of three teams piloted by Salem Health from September 2017 through June 2018.

Williams said they were looking at a 38- to 59-unit facility that would be called "William Booth Family Housing."  He did not say where TSA planned to build it.

The news wasn't supposed to come out for a few more weeks, Williams said, because TSA hadn't yet got its "final stuff" from the City.  "But", he said, "since it was in the paper this morning, I figured I might as well tell you."

Williams was apparently referring to Lynn, C. "Fate of historic house on Water Street in Salem is unknown." 4 October 2019, Statesman Journal), which concerns Water Street property TSA bought in 2007 for $175K with plans to build a family shelter there -- plans the article says TSA "has ditched."  The article does not mention any current plan to build a family shelter, but it does say that TSA has been cited for nine code violations related to maintenance and upkeep of the Front Street property and has until 5pm October 8 to come into compliance. 

Union Gospel Mission is (re)launching the capital campaign to build the new Men's Mission in October.  The "Hope has a New Address" event on the 12th starts with lunch and inspiration, followed by dessert.  The dessert event is sold out.  

The state Housing Stability Council/OHCS are talking about "outcome-based strategies" and "outcome-based contracts" with Community Action Partnership of Oregon (CAPO), which is the lobby for all of Oregon's Community Action Agencies (CAAs).  Readers will recall that, by law, all state and federal anti-poverty funds must go to local CAAs.  The CAAs don't have to compete for the funds, and they don't have to perform.  Not in any meaningful sense.       

The conversations are in response to a budget note connected with HB 5201's appropriation of an additional $5M in EHA funds to OHCS (at 31).  The note  told the HSC to make recommendations to OHCS on how to prioritize EHA and SHAP funds "to ensure that funds are being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible", and, "to consider how the use of funding practices and outcome-oriented strategies, to create a more effective system."  OHCS must present the recommendations to the legislature by the end of February 2019.      

If the legislature and OHCS get serious about creating more effective homeless delivery systems (one can only hope), the change could be good for Salem and Marion and Polk Counties, if it brings performance pressure to bear on the Rural Oregon Continuum of Care (ROCC), of which Salem and Marion/Polk are, sadly, members.  According to the minutes of a recent HSC meeting, OHCS is taking a "look at strengthening the Rural Oregon Continuum of Care", which is code for "ROCC is on the radar", as it certainly should be.