Wednesday, January 30, 2019

KMUZ Politics Trumps Programming

By Sarah Owens

KMUZ Board President, Bill Smaldone
Bill Smaldone, the president of the board of Salem's community radio station, KMUZ (100.7 FM in Salem), "confirmed" recently that the Willamette Wake Up Tuesday team was not fired because of the absent mayor segment, which he referred to as the "encounter with the Mayor." 

Smaldone was speaking at the December 8 meeting of the Salem Chapter of the International Organization for a Participatory Society (IOPS), which he founded in 2012.

Willamette Wake Up Tuesday hosts Michael Livingston and Sara Cromwell, and yours truly are also members of the Salem IOPS Chapter, aka Socialist Friends of KMUZ.   The group donated on average about $400/year to KMUZ in the form of challenge grants.  Smaldone said that, as a result of the firing, he would not be attending any more meetings. 

No reason was given for firing the Willamette Wake Up Tuesday team, but it came just three days after the absent mayor segment aired.  It was reported here and in Salem Reporter.  See Brynelson, T. "Community radio hosts fired following interview with absent mayor."  (13 November 2018, Salem Reporter.) (quoting Ken Adams as saying the team were not "good team players" and “There’s been problems in the past. They haven’t been very communicative, and that was one of the reasons we (felt), in the past, that if we brought things up, they would not listen.”)

The absent mayor segment, the audio file of which is linked in a blog post by Livingston titled "The Radio Days", consisted of Livingston asking Mayor Chuck Bennett questions about the faltering sobering center project and the City's Homeless Rental Assistance Program, without the mayor present.   

Normally, Bennett would have been in the studio.  For more than a year, he had appeared on the first Tuesday of the month, but in October, his executive assistant emailed Livingston saying, 

Mayor Bennett determined that he will not be participating in tomorrow’s show. He suggested that you meet for coffee at some point in the near future to determine his future involvement. 

According to Salem Reporter, Mayor Bennett felt that the Tuesday team "had veered from its goal of talking about all city issues and instead focused on homelessness."  Salem Reporter quoted him as saying, “One of the biggest issues is homelessness. It’s not the only issue. And we seem to have gotten into a one-note discussion.”

During his appearances on the show in August and September, Bennett seemed to have no problem  fielding questions about the recommendations of the Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force, which had had just completed six months' work on August 1.  He was also asked about the Corps of Engineers’ proposal to construct fish protection structures at Detroit Dam and the changes to the State Street Corridor Plan proposed by Councilor Kaser.

What Bennett didn't care for, apparently, was the CANDO Archive blog posts about the interviews, which he referred to during the September show as "transcripts", saying he needed to "have written notes in front me if you're going to be writing transcripts."  See "Mayor Mulls Dtown Hless Recs" and "City Homeless Role Unclear."

Despite repeated promises over several months to meet Livingston and me for coffee, Bennett did not follow through.  Then the email from his assistant, quoted above.  Livingston asked Bennett by email, "Chuck, Is that about the blog, or something else?", Bennett didn't respond.  That's when Livingston decided to ask his questions through the airwaves.

Melanie Zermer, Ken Adams, Pamela Kelly

Smaldone told the Salem IOPS Chapter that Ken Adams, who co-chairs the station's "Operations Team" with Pamela Kelly, did not have authority to speak for the station when he told Salem Reporter that the Tuesday team was "not communicative" and were "rarely 'good team players'."  Smaldone could not, however, explain the reason for the firing.  He suggested that the team might have been fired for not attending "all DJ meetings" and the perception that the team just did what it wanted to do.

When I reminded Smaldone that the Willamette Wake Up interim operating agreement adopted by the Program Review Committee in August of 2016 had made each day's team responsible for its own programming decisions and directed that, otherwise, everyone should "tend their own knitting" or go through the Executive Producer, Dave Hammock, he had no response.

Smaldone said he was not present when the board made its decision, but when it was explained to him, he agreed with it, based on his experience in the Salem United project, which he said Livingston and I had caused to fail five years ago.  See Bucklin, B. "Gardening in the Asphalt." (23 November 2013.) (Interview concerning the end of Salem United, which is referred to pseudonymously as the Nehalem Progressive Alliance.)  He admitted not having spoken to us about Salem United or "team player" perceptions, despite our being together at numerous Chapter meetings and other events over several years.  He also said he had not himself found us to be "unapproachable."

Salem United began in March 2013 and dissolved by a majority vote in November 2013.  See here. It was Smaldone who suggested that Cromwell, Livingston and I join Salem United.  Likewise, volunteering at KMUZ was his idea.  Both Smaldone and Cromwell stopped attending Salem United meetings weeks if not months before the group voted to dissolve.  Smaldone didn't say why he thought Livingston and I were uniquely responsible for Salem United's failure, or what it had to do with Willamette Wake Up.

"All DJ meetings" were held once or twice a year before pledge drives.  Livingston says he let Pam Kelly know when he couldn't attend and watched the video when one was available.  The show always aired pledge drive announcements and never received any complaints. 

Not since the fall of 2016 had anyone called a meeting of the Willamette Wake Up team.  As recounted in Livingston's "The Radio Days", the week before the firing, Melanie Zermer, who at some point succeeded Dave Hammock as Willamette Wake Up's Executive Producer, wrote the Tuesday team to say that "starting in January, Salem City Watch will be a sponsor of Tuesday WWU for 2019.  Thanks for the great programming you all provide."  The week before that, Adams had written to Livingston and Cromwell to thank them for "continued coverage of the Homeless Issue."  No complaints, no warnings, no hint of a problem with "the station." 

The decision to fire the Willamette Wake Up team was precipitous, without warning, and with no plan for how to fill the Tuesday slot, or to notify people lined up to appear on the Tuesday show.  Livingston wasn't even allowed to post the podcast of the excellent interview with Troy Gulstrom that also aired on November 6. 

In the days after the firing, Zermer responded to letters of concern from the community by saying "The KMUZ governing board reserves the right to terminate a show if it no longer serves the interest of the station."  Salem Reporter recently quoted her as saying, “I think it’s important that the community is able to report on itself, talk about itself,” she said. “I think it’s more genuine and gets more people engaged.”  See Brynelson, T. "Radio producer provides venue for community issues."  28 December 2018, Salem Reporter.)

Whatever it might mean for a community to "report on itself", it apparently doesn't include asking mildly tough questions of government officials.  If the replacement Willamette Wake Up Tuesday segment is any indication, it consists of hastily thrown together community events coverage and friendly chats with, as Adams put it, "people who come up and talk to her [Zermer] about things people need to be aware of."        

It's curious that "the station" can't just admit that the Willamette Wake Up Tuesday team was fired over the absent mayor segment because it didn't fit "the station's" milk toasty sensibilities as to what is appropriate for good community radio.  But, give "the station" credit for knowing the decision couldn't be justified to anyone outside the KMUZ cabal.

KMUZ: petty politics over quality programming.  Not my community radio.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

State of City - State of Homelessness

By Chuck Bennett

Excerpts from Mayor Bennett's 2018 and 2019 "State of the City" addresses touching on the subject of homelessness.  For the 2017 "State of the City" address, see "Mayor Announces Ambitious Plan for Chronic Homelessness."  (15 February 2017.)  Also see "Chuck Bennett, State of the City." (18 March 2016.)

State of City, 28 March 2018
State of the City, 2018: HRAP, Fisher Road, Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force, UGM Men's Mission, sobering center.

On homelessness in Salem, Mayor Bennett said:
The survey did show a really marked increase in public concern about homelessness and affordable housing.  I don't think that's news for anyone in this room.

Last year, I announced a City initiative to deal with a portion of our homeless citizens who are not being served by other government or private programs.  Call them the "hardest to house."  It's somewhat euphemistic.

These are the people who are homeless.  They have been for many years.  They suffer from health, mental health or addiction issues, and in many cases have criminal histories.  Those of you who own rentals, think about that for just a moment.  This is your new tenant...

With substantial assistance from the Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency and its ARCHES program, the Salem Housing Authority began the Homeless Rental Assistance Program.  This is the largest Housing First program in the state of Oregon...Housing First is viewed as the best practice in dealing with homelessness in any community.

Forty-three individuals have been permanently housed since we began this program in July.  Seventy-seven persons are fully enrolled in the program, which includes not just housing, but wrap around social services...These are folks who lost their network.  They've got nobody underpinning them.  And we have brought together a group of services to help them.

Beginning in June 2018, three of these clients are moving out of this program.  They have been so successful, they are just moving in to the standard housing program.  They came after, say, 10 to 12 years on the streets, addicted to drugs or alcohol -- they're moving into their own homes.  This, I think, is a remarkable achievement, but I live in a world where recovery from these kinds of issues occurs one person at a time, one day at a time.  And that I think is essential to remember, as you try to change these people's lives, and help them out of what can be horribly degrading conditions.  This isn't going to be done for thousands.  We will not -- we will not -- totally solve this problem, but we are going to save people's lives as a community.

I want to introduce a hero in this program.  It's one of the landlords...This program relies heavily on the willingness of local landlords to participate in this program...Rhonda King, please stand up.  [Applause.] manager for JPM Property Management.  Rhonda hasn't just provided apartments for a couple of folks.  Rhonda has rented to 19 of the 43 people we have housed.  Rhonda, thank you so much.  She is a truly amazing and wonderful ambassador for this program...

Overall, the Salem Housing Authority estimates that 500 to 600 families who are in subsidized housing would be homeless without that support.  So, we're working with folks in the hundreds, as well.

The City has also worked with Salem Housing acquiring property on Fisher Road.  By moving it into the urban renewal area, we're going to provide 29 single room occupancies for just the kind of clients we're talking about.  It's the sort of supportive housing we need for the chronically homeless...We've also received a grant for $270,000 from Salem Health Foundation to provide six medical respite beds at that same property.  This medical respite care is essential [to] deal with post-acute medical situations [involving homeless individuals]...We will have six rooms devoted just to taking care of those clients.  And if the basic humanity of this doesn't get you, there's a major cost savings of hospital costs that comes with it.  So, this is...government doing right on many levels.

I've also appointed a task force, chaired by downtown city councilor Cara Kaser, to address homeless issues in the downtown area.  We're expecting a report soon.

One of the major changes coming is the decision by Union Gospel Mission, the City's largest shelter, to move north of downtown, and the arrival of the...Community Action Agency at Union and Front Streets.

The City has also decided to proceed with the purchase of the old Union Gospel Mission site at some future date when they move.

In cooperation with the county, the state, Salem Health, the Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, we are developing a sobering center in this town.  This is a center that will provide quality service to residents needing help, other than the current practice of taking them to jail or the hospital emergency room to deal with excessive alcohol and drug consumption.  It's quite simple, we're not going to put them in jail, and we're not going to run them through the emergency room.  We're going to take them to a place specifically to deal with people in that vulnerable condition.  [Applause.] 
State of the City, 23 February 2019
State of the City, 2019: History lesson (?), HRAP, Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force, and oblique references to Fisher Road, Yaquina Hall, and the regional position housed at MWVCOG.

On homelessness in Salem, Mayor Bennett said:

Homelessness.  This is one of the most difficult issues faced by cities across the U.S. and around the world.

Cities in Oregon have traditionally provided a limited list of services.  Police, fire, streets, sidewalks, libraries, water and sewer.  A couple of other things.  Tax policy has tied most of the funding for these to property taxes.

In Salem, property taxes don't raise enough revenue to pay for police and fire, let alone other services.  Think about that, just for a minute.  Your property taxes do not fully pay for your police and fire department.  Let alone your library or parks or any of the rest of services the city provides.

The challenge of homelessness is often oversimplified.  It is not solely an economic problem.  A substantial contributor to homelessness has been a collapse in an individual's support system.  Whether it is family, friends or other institutions.  The most frequent contributing factor is health, mental health and addiction issues.

The problem is that these issues have not been part of the menu of services offered by city government.

Faced with a real crisis on our streets, I asked the City to launch the housing rental assistance Program a couple of years ago, aimed at permanently housing the City's "hardest to house" residents.

This group of homeless were not seeking service from any of the traditional nonprofit groups.  These are people who have been un-housed for over a decade, have untreated health, and other mental health issues, also are likely to be addicted to alcohol or drugs.  They have, as you might imagine, bad credit, if they have any.  They often have a criminal record.  If left alone, the life expectancy of a person in this category, on the streets of Salem, is about 52 years.  That, for me, and I know for most of you, is an appalling situation.

I found the whole situation untenable.  The City added this group to its targeted low income housing clients served through the City's Housing Authority, which, by the way, just in case anyone says the City of Salem isn't stepping up on these issues, we housed 3,474 low income residents [households] in a variety of programs, including homeless families.  That houses 8,200 residents, including 2,778 children, so I hope you understand we are working constantly on this issue.

The Housing Rental Assistance Program is one of the Council's priorities.  It's housing over a hundred of these "hardest to house" individuals in privately owned housing, with solid wrap-around services needed to make their transition from homelessness a success.  The issue of this is Housing First, and a cure to homelessness, not just a tent, or a tiny house, or some other little gimcrack idea.

We have housed the first 100, we are working on the second.  The Housing First program is the largest of the Housing First programs in the state.  Housing First [programs] like HRAP have a great national success record moving people away from chronic homelessness.

The City also has work under way on 89 new units purposely set aside for this program and for very low income residents threatened with losing their home.  [Fisher Road and Yaquina Hall?]  This isn't a band-aid program.  It's not like tent cities or massive, publicly financed shelters.  This is a cure to homelessness.  It also is fiscally responsible.  Studies show leaving a person chronically homeless costs the community $30,000 to $40,000 per year, per person.  The HRAP program costs $12,500.

I also convened a task force of stakeholders and interested residents chaired by downtown councilor Cara Kaser, who did an outstanding job, by the way, on this very, very difficult issue.

It [the task force] has made a series of recommendations for dealing with some of the impacts of homelessness in our downtown, including long sought place for homeless persons to safely store their few possessions.  I'll tell you just anecdotally, it was almost suddenly I began to hear about how many homeless there were the day some lockers were closed at UGM and people had no place to put their goods.  It was [as if] suddenly they became visible, instead of just being invisible, which is probably good for all of us to know what's going on.

It also adds 24/7 toilets, laundry and shower services, support alternative ways of supporting homeless programs and individuals, there's a variety of different ideas that might replace panhandling, to help folks, encourage property owners to make building and site modifications that might help prevent crime, and assist in developing policies that result in better relations between business and homeless people.  That is one of the most common emails I get is from a business person.  I just got a text message from my barber with a really legitimate complaint.  I won't go into it -- the details are not part of a lunch/dessert time.

Cooperative work between Marion and Polk Counties and the Cities of Salem and Keizer have resulted in retaining the local Council of Governments to complete a project mapping the various programs available, and the needs and impacts.  It's an exhaustive list, one that now needs to be fully reviewed, and proceed to a program of well-coordinated services to homeless residents.

I want to particularly call out the partnership we have had over the years with a whole range of religious private and non-profit organizations.  I can assure you, absolutely assure you, that without the help, really the leadership of organizations like ARCHES program at the Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, Union Gospel Mission, Salvation Army, Northwest Human Services, and many other non-profits and churches, the significant progress we are making would not have been possible. 

3/26/19 Update:  transcript of entire 2019 address posted to City's website.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

News from the Continuum

by Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

Council Policy Agenda Work Session January 23, 2019
On January 23, CANDO hosted a community conversation about the City's refusal to allow meals to be served under the Center and Marion Street bridges.  The primary unanswered question for many in attendance was whether the City was willing to reconsider its decision.  See "re Meals Under Bridge." (26 January 2019.) 

The next day, the City issued a staff report for the January 28 City Council meeting that included a work plan outline for the Food and Sundries Distribution to the Homeless Community Task Force, and clarified that the City is not open to reconsideration by stating that the purpose of the task force process was not to allow, or find ways to allow, food distribution "in areas posted 'no trespassing'" (i.e., under either of the bridges).  The outline also extended by another 30 days the expected completion date for the Task Force's work.  The decision and the way it was communicated were not well received in social media, and the City Council may be hearing more about this Monday during public comment.

The Mid Willamette Valley Council of Governments (MWVCOG) announced that the recruitment for a new Homeless Initiative Program Coordinator has failed, but there is a plan "B."  See "Homeless Program Coordinator Position Empty, Iffy."  (25 January 2019.)

Council agreed at the Council Policy Agenda work session to move forward with acquiring 615 Commercial Street NE and setting up the CPTED small grant program (see items I., III. and VII.b.) recommended by the Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force and to schedule a work session for February 19 (in conjunction with work on the Downtown Streetscape Plan) to consider the remaining items.  See "News from the Continuum." (19 January 2019.)

During the work session, the Council tacitly agreed to proceed with building out the sobering center in the Commercial Street building, despite having no plan for closing the current gap in funding for the annual operating costs.  See "City to Build Despite Ops Funding Gap."  (25 January 2019.)  Also See Brynelson, T. "Besides budget concerns, construction delays added to sobering center woes." (25 January 2019, Salem Reporter.)  

The Hillcrest development idea was referred to the City Council Finance Committee, with cautions from the City Manager and Urban Development Department Director Kristin Retherford about undertaking such a project.

The Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (MWVCAA) is hiring a Client Care Specialist to assist day shelter staff respond more effectively to consumers' disruptive behavior, often caused or complicated by serious mental illness.

On Wednesday, January 30, MWVCAA will coordinate the annual Point in Time Homeless Count, which includes organizing teams of volunteers who attempt to survey all unsheltered  households in Marion and Polk Counties.

In Polk County, there will be a "Homeless Connect" event that will cater exclusively to  unsheltered households and individuals, in an effort to survey as many as possible.  (Marion County conducts its Homeless Connect event in March.)  This is the second year that the Polk County Connect has focused exclusively on the  unsheltered.  In prior years, the Connect was open to anyone needing a meal, clothing, camping supplies, health insurance, or basic services like dental care, health screenings, hair cuts and pet care.  The change has been a source of controversy in the provider community, especially when people experiencing homelessness are turned away.

BAM Agency (L), Mike's Electric (M), Vacant (R)
The Union Gospel Mission (UGM) has acquired Mike’s Electric at 275 Division NE and BAM Advertising at  255 Division NE, on the south/courtyard side of the site of the new Men's Mission.  See "Glennie Appeals UGM Permit to Council." (20 April 2018.)  UGM's Executive Director, Dan Clem, reports that the capital campaign, "Hope Has a New Address", is on track with $8.7M pledged/committed/collected towards the total of $15M."

re Meals Under Bridge

A meal under the Marion Street Bridge, 2015


Community Conversation

23 January 2019

Revised 28 January 2019

Revision added note re meal being served in parking lot at 615 Commercial St. NE and permit form.
Intro:  CANDO and First Christian Church hosted this community conversation to facilitate the sharing of information and perspectives about the situation in Marion Square Park, the need for the City to ensure public safety and the desire of residents to serve meals to people experiencing homelessness in City parks and facilities.  The conversation is necessitated in large part because the City has not informed CANDO of its actions and decisions in this matter.  It is also consistent with CANDO's annual goals.

Attending:  Jennifer Kellar, City of Salem Public Works Department, Parks & Recreation Division; Dan Sheets, Humanitarian Ministries Network of Salem (HMNS) (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday evenings); Jenni Betschart, Salem First Nazarene (Friday evening); Erik Lindsey (Friday and Saturday); Kevin Gray, East Salem Seventh Day Adventist Church (Sunday evening); Yvonne Paez and Patricia Less, Grace Fellowship Outreach Church; Pamella Watson, First Congregational UCC; Jackie Lancaster, The Way Church; Debbie Cook, Inside Out Ministries; Jimmy Jones and Ken Houghton, Mid Willamette Community Action Agency; Dan Clem, Union Gospel Mission; Joe Schomus, Morningstar Church; Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston, CANDO; Teri Morgan, Be Bold Ministries and Culinary Missionary; Jeanne Collins and Dan Rouslin; Bob Fritts; Harold Moore; Jeremy Ellis; Lorrie Walker; Rebecca Attenberger; Neta Fredrickson; Jerry Barza; Angelina Lockhart; Trish Sickendick; Cerri Mirhlinn (sp); Harry and Jeong Ahn;  Brenda Ellison; Rob Uplinger

Meeting notes:  Michael Livingston opened the meeting at 5:30p, welcoming everyone and asking them to share their name, organization if they had one, and what brought them to the meeting.

The vast majority had volunteered picking up trash and serving meals under the bridges.  They were at the meeting because they were concerned about the City's recent action to disallow meals under the Marion Street Bridge and hoped that the City would reconsider.  They are involved in meal distribution out of moral and religious conviction and in the belief that there are about 100 people in the area who would or could go hungry, but for the meals served by these groups.

The City owns some portion of the area under the Marion Street Bridge.  ODOT owns the rest, and the area under the Center Street Bridge.  ODOT has always posted these areas "No Trespassing."

All agreed that the tables and benches were, at least in retrospect, a bad idea, because they invited and facilitated camping.

There was a general sense that the City should have cleared the camp much earlier than it did.

Questions about when the decision was made to clear the camp and who was consulted went unanswered, as did the question whether or not the City was willing to reconsider the ban on meals under the bridge.  Kellar said that was for the task force being formed by the City Manager.  (The task force work plan outline published subsequently made clear that the task force would not be reconsidering the ban.)

Most were concerned that the City had not made it known that the permitting program was in the nature of an experiment, or consulted those serving meals in its development.  Kellar said the City Manager's task force would include meal providers.

There was general agreement that, despite best efforts on the part of meal providers to clean up and get consumers to leave the meal distribution area following meals, there is a nexus between the meal distribution and consumers lingering, if not camping, in the area nearby, and the need for the City to provide additional garbage removal services, though one group takes its garbage with them.

There was disagreement about the nexus between meals and other adverse impacts on Marion Square Park, e.g., graffiti, drug use and property damage.  See "AGENDA: Salem to outline new task force on meals for homeless, talk of new downtown apartment."  (26 January 2019, Salem Reporter.) (Quoting a City staff report and Dan Sheets about the effects of meal distributions on Marion Square Park.) 

There was no disagreement that high-needs individuals are concentrated in Marion Square Park, or that the park is home to significant violence and drug trafficking.   

There was general agreement that human trafficking victims were being preyed upon during the meals by drug and human traffickers.

There was general agreement that some of the homeless community simply cannot tolerate being indoors long enough to have a meal.  (The groups facilitated by Dan Sheets once served their meals indoors at the SonRise Church when it was located in the Marion Car Rental and Park on Commercial Street.)

By agreement with the Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, meals are being served in the south parking lot of 615 Commercial Street NE (since 15 January 2019), and the City is paying the cost of additional garbage removal services for 30 days.

The City Manager told the City Council that he would have a report for the meeting on January 28. 

At 7p, Michael thanked everyone for coming and said the report would be posted on CANDO's FB page shortly after it was published.     

A meal at SonRise Church in the Marion Car Rental & Park, 2011

SonRise Church in the Marion Car Rental & Park, 2011
City Permit form used to reserve area under Marion Street Bridge

Friday, January 25, 2019

Homeless Program Coordinator Position Empty, Iffy

by Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

Homeless Initiative Program Intern, Valerie Lang
The Mid Willamette Valley Council of Governments (MWVCOG) was unsuccessful in recruiting someone to fill the position of Homeless Initiative Program Coordinator, so an intern will be filling in for a term.

MWVCOG Executive Director Sean O'Day said in an email, "the limited duration, tentative funding, and timing of our recruitment (not synched with the end of the academic year) make it very difficult to fill the position in the current employment market."  

The Winter 2019 (and third) issue of Mid Willamette Homeless Initiative News introduces Valerie Lang, an OSU undergraduate student in public health and says she will be completing several Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative (MWHI) strategic plan projects focused on financial literacy, youth homelessness and service coordination.  It also says Lang will be attending community meetings "to observe how partnerships serve homeless individuals and families." 

According to the MWHI News, Lang has a background in senior services and "sees the homeless initiative internship as a good way to learn about how governments and nonprofits work together to serve people in need."  Lang's Facebook page indicates she lives in Salem and attended Chemeketa Community College.

Former Marion County Commissioner, Janet Carlson
On Friday, O'Day announced that recently retired Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson had contracted with MWVCOG to conclude the continuum of care analysis and a few other projects (e.g., evaluating anti-panhandling programs and a resource map report) that were part of the Homeless Initiative Program Coordinator's year-one work plan.

Carlson also contracted to "evaluate whether there is a longer term need for the position and if so make recommendations to the participating jurisdictions and the COG Board on how to best fund the position for its long term viability."  The term of Carlson's contract is reportedly four months.

In an interview in late December, Carlson was asked if she had any regrets about her tenure as County Commissioner, and she identified the lack of progress on the MWHI strategic plan.  Carlson has plans to move to Idaho "at the end of winter."

The announcement of an unsuccessful recruitment comes on the heels of the Salem City Council's recent decision to repeal SRC Chapter 20G and thereby eliminate the Community Services and Housing Commission (CSHC), which was based, in part, on the representation by Urban Development Department Director, Kristin Retherford, that the Homeless Initiative Program Coordinator "is charged with many of the same duties that are outlined in SRC [20G] as duties of the CSHC."

Retherford is a member of the steering committee that oversees the work of the Homeless Initiative Program Coordinator.

City to Build Despite Ops Funding Gap

by Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

"We're gonna be saving them a lot more than $100K apiece."
The City intends to proceed with sobering center build out, include operating costs in next year's budget and worry about how they're going to close the operating cost gap, later.  

According to information shared at the Council Policy Agenda work session on January 23, 2019 (see video here and report below), construction would not now be completed until mid-summer 2019.  The center was supposed to open in early 2019.    

Last week, after the City released the news that the estimate of what it will cost annually to operate the sobering center had jumped by about 50% to $950K, Mayor Bennett told Salem Reporter that the sobering center "is a very high priority and we’re going to do this thing."  See Brynelson, T. "Mayor calls on Marion County, Salem Health to help pay for proposed sobering center."  (20 January 2019, Salem Reporter.)

City Manager Steve Powers told Salem Reporter that "A sobering center was one of the top recommendations from the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Task Force."  But, the task force did not  prioritize its recommendations, and staff placed the sobering center as the very last "objective" listed under Goal 3, "Support Services and Education" in the task force's strategic plan.  (See here at 3.14.)

However, in a 2017 work session on the City's strategic plan, the City Council ranked the sobering center "most urgent", along with redoing the budget process and the comprehensive plan and a climate action plan.  See "News from the Continuum" (10 September 2017). 

The City's annual, ongoing commitment to operating costs now stands at $250K, Marion County's at $100K, and Salem Health's at $100K for a limited time.  At the work session, Councilor Andersen commented that he was, "looking at what the partners are offering and what they're actually going to be saving by the sobering center, and that's not enough in my view."  He said, "if we take on this role, we're going to be saving them a lot more than $100K apiece."

We asked Councilor Andersen what savings information he was looking at during the work session, and he pointed to the work session staff report.  However, neither that report, nor the one on the sobering center, contains any savings information.  City Manager Steve Powers could say only that the "other partners are at the table."

Salem Health is most often able to bill for emergency room services to individuals brought there by police for intoxication.  That's because such individuals are often chronically homeless and have multiple untreated medical conditions.  Therefore, savings to Salem Hospital from not having those admissions are not as significant as some people are perhaps assuming.  

Any hopes that WVCH, the local CCO, might be willing to contribute to the operation of the sobering center have been dashed by the recent announcement that it will not be seeking a contract with the state.  See Floum, J. "Split in Salem health care industry leads to major insurance changes."  (25 January 2019, The Lund Report.)  The likely successor, Marion Polk Coordinated Care (MPCC), a partnership between Salem Health, Salem Clinic and WVP Health Authority, might be willing, but that seems unlikely, given Salem Health has already contributing what it considers to be a fair share for a limited time.  Perhaps MPCC might be willing to take over Salem Health's contribution down the road. 

Staff report for 23 January 2019 Council Policy Agenda work session

Saturday, January 19, 2019

News from the Continuum

by Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

City Manager Steve Powers

"City Helps Campers Under Marion Street Bridge in Coordinated Response with Local Service Providers."  

-- City of Salem 8 Jan 2019 News Release

After a turbulent week "helping campers" under the Marion Street Bridge (see "Meals Under Bridge on Shutdown"), the City Manager has ordered Public Works not to issue any more permits to use the area under the bridge, and is evaluating the permit process set up last January to "manag[e] meal distributions."  Monday night he told the City Council:

The goal of the evaluation is to determine if there are better ways of managing the meal distributions with the site under the bridge no longer being available to help prevent unreasonable interference with public health, welfare, safety and recreation. 

He said he expected that "the result [of the evaluation] will be an approach that will last, as far distribution in the City parks."

What's confusing about the Manager's remarks is that the area under the bridge is, of course, not a "park area."  It's always been posted, "No Trespassing."  Public Works made it into a City facility of sorts by putting tables, benches, barriers and garbage cans there, and then allowing people to reserve it at no charge through the City's website.  That "facility" was, as we all know, hauled away on Wednesday, and barricades preventing vehicular access erected.  The City has said it intends to enforce the "No Trespassing" directive under the bridges.

The City Manager seems to be assuming that those serving the meals want to use Marion Square Park or some other City park to distribute food.  They're currently using the parking lot at 615 Commercial Street NE, with permission.  Neither Marion Square Park nor the parking lot afford shelter from the winter rains.

The City Manager is probably applying SRC Chapter 94.200 Park Policy, section (d) in his evaluation of the permit process.  That section provides:

The Director shall have the authority to regulate the activities in park areas when necessary to prevent congestion and to procure the maximum use and safety for the convenience of all. Visitors shall comply with any directions given to achieve this end. Failure to so comply with such regulations shall be considered a violation of this section
However, the big question that the folks who used to serve meals under the bridge have is not what do they need to do to be allowed to serve meals in the park, but what do they need to do to be allowed back under the bridge?  What they want to know, and what the City won't tell them, is whether the area is off limits "forever", as appears to be the City Manager's intent, or might they come to some agreement? 

CANDO is hosting a community conversation about the situation on Wednesday evening, January 23.  For details see here.   

Also on Monday night, the City Council advanced to second reading Ordinance Bill 23-18, dissolving the Community Services and Housing Commission (CSHC).  See Brynelson, T. "Salem moves to dismantle, replace commission overseeing federal dollars."  (11 December 2018, Salem Reporter.)  City Council also amended the Mid Willamette Homeless Initiative (MWHI) Intergovernmental Agreement to extend it to June 30, 2020.  No indication that a new regional Homeless Initiative Program Coordinator has been hired.  See "Homeless Program Coordinator Calls it Quits."

The Homeless Rental Assistance Program (HRAP) has "paused" enrolling new participants, with exceptions for vacancies and people with extreme medical conditions, for the rest of the fiscal year.  Skyrocketing rents have meant that the Salem Housing Authority (SHA), which runs HRAP, can assist fewer people.  HRAP graduates are moving in to Salem's public housing (which SHA owns) versus on to Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) (aka Section 8).  SHA's HCV list remains closed.  See Radnovich, C. "Salem's homeless housing success, other factors bring turmoil to Wallace Marine Park."  Statesman Journal, 19 December 2018. (The article refers incorrectly to HRAP "not taking applications."  Participation in HRAP is by referral only, through The ARCHES Project.) 

Also on Wednesday evening, January 23, a work session on the Council Policy Agenda.  The staff report on options to implement the Downtown Homeless Initiative Task Force (DHSTF) recommendations is an excellent example of what happens when hopeful vision meets bureaucratic reductionism.  Of particular note is the way staff reduced the Good Neighbor Partnership vision to a card or flyer to hand out to downtown businesses, saying it's really up to Marion County or the regional Homeless Initiative Coordinator to convene such a group.  The problem with that is, the vision is one for downtown Salem.  

Fortunately, Northwest Human Services and the Mid Willamette Community Action Agency (MWVCAA)'s The ARCHES Project are cooperating to develop a program of coordinated outreach that could fill the Good Neighbor Partnership gap.  See here.

The staff report confirms that the sobering center is in trouble (see "Sobering Center Gap Widens"), as well as the idea to use the Hillcrest Correctional Facility for a low-barrier shelter/housing (not a DHSTF recommendation, see here).  The staff report on Hillcrest indicates that the City would have to acquire the entire 44.6 acre site (not likely, but not impossible).  Of the 17 buildings on the site,

The Administrative Building appears to be the most feasible option for converting to transitional single room occupant housing with shared communal living, kitchen and restroom facilities. It would require restroom and kitchen improvements and may require other, currently unknown improvements to convert the building to residential use. 

The State of Oregon is asking $5.6M for the property.  A bargain, considering MWVCAA paid $2.1M for a 60+ year-old revamped warehouse on Commercial Street, but a huge undertaking to develop.   

Per the staff report, Council, with respect to any "issue" in the Council Policy Agenda, may decide to 1) have another work session in 2019, 2) take it up in the budget process, 3) move it to the list for 2020 or 2021, or 4) proceed if Urban Renewal can pay for it.  So, based on the staff report, and barring some unforeseen contingency, it's now a dead cert that the City will be purchasing some or all of MWVCAA's $2.1M property with urban renewal funds, in exchange for the promise of 24/7 staffed access to laundry, showers and toilet facilities, whether or not the sobering center project materializes.  (See "Urban Renewal to the Rescue.") 

Friday, January 18, 2019

1/15/18 Minutes

Members: M. Bryant Baird, Heather Cady
Organizations: Kendra Taylor, Lindsay Bigelow and Barbara Taylor with the Kindness Closet; Dale Cardwell, Simona Cardwell, Starr, Shane, Matt Caulder, Debbie Cook and Dianne Rush with Inside Out Ministries; Warren Lund, Josh Lair, Carly Lair, Matt Madeira with Be Bold Street Ministries; Ashley Hamilton and Ken Houghton with Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency’s ARCHES Project; Troy Brynelson, Salem Reporter; Valerie Freeman, Salem Regional Library; Denyc Boles, Salem Health; LaDonye “Rob” Sloan, Salem Main Street Association.  
City and County Representatives: Councilor Kaser; Lt. Treven Upkes, SPD
Guests: none

The regular meeting of the CANDO Board of Directors was called to order at 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at the First Christian Church at 685 Marion Street NE, Salem.  The Chair and Secretary-Treasurer were present.  

The minutes of the November meeting were approved, and the agenda was amended by unanimous consent to put new business to top of agenda. Michael’s motion to approve a letter of concern about the proposed removal of trees on Division Street to create parking spaces passed unanimously.

Lt. Upkes reported that no arrests were made that morning in the highly anticipated eviction of campers under the Marion Street Bridge.  He said eight took the Northwest Human Services’ van to the West Salem Clinic for check ups. Sixty to eighty yards of solid and hazardous waste were removed, and one dog was taken for emergency vet services. The process worked well, thanks to the volunteers and service providers who had been engaged in continuous outreach for as long as the camp had been there. In response to a question where one of the campers might see about retrieving his mother’s ashes, which had been left behind, Upkes said to come down to police station.  

Building on High Street complained of

Councilor Kaser reported receiving complaints about activities in and around a building in the 600 block of High Street NE (see photo).  She also reported that Sadie Carney for the Grant neighborhood association was urging the City amend its land use process to require applicants to meet with neighborhood associations in advance.  She said there will be another work session on the Council Policy Agenda on January 23 and that “parks” is heading the City’s review policies affecting distribution of food in City parks and facilities with existing permit-holders (see SRC Chapter 94, Offenses in Parks).  Vice-chair Michael Livingston noted that CANDO had not been invited to participate in the review, and Councilor Kaser indicated she would request that CANDO be included.  

In interested citizen comments, Valerie Freeman shared information about the Public Library’s program, Salem Reads.

The board heard a presentation by Ashley Hamilton, Associate Program Director of The ARCHES Project of the Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency on a program of coordinated outreach to people experiencing homelessness.  The presentation included a look at the services currently available in the ARCHES Project’s day shelter, which has on average 107 consumers a day, more when temperatures are extreme and at the end of the month.

Hamilton said that the coordinated outreach program is still in the development stage.  Northwest Human services and the Mid Willamette Community Action Agency are each hiring coordinators.  She said most of the 853 chronically homeless individuals in Marion and Polk Counties who’ve been assessed by ARCHES staff or partners are living downtown and around Wallace Marine Park and are unusually vulnerable.  The plan is to focus the outreach on those individuals and engage them in preventive/maintenance services and keep them engaged, with the goal of reducing their use of emergency services. Hamilton says they also plan to create a crisis hotline for downtown businesses and residents with concerns about homeless individuals who appear to be in distress.   
There being no other business before the board, the Chair adjourned the meeting at 6:53 p.m.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

"It just didn't work out"

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

Oregon Public Broadcasting ran a segment on "Homelessness in Salem" a couple of days ago, and the impression left by the conversation between Think Out Loud host Jeff Norcross and Jonathan Bach of the Statesman Journal is that Salem is just kind of bumbling along when it comes to dealing with homelessness.  

In his defense, Bach was just reporting what people, including City staff, have told him.

The City's press release stated that the crime and unsafe/unsanitary conditions under the Marion Street Bridge "confirm last year’s pilot effort to provide a single location for food distribution to the homeless was not successful." 
During the interview, Bach repeatedly conflated the camping ban with the ban on food distribution under the bridge and with distributing food in the area of Marion Square Park generally.

When Norcross asked Bach why people congregated under the bridge, Bach took the City's line by saying one of the draws may have been the volunteers serving food there under the City's pilot program.  He did so again when asked to explain the intent of the program (organize the area, contain people and trash, identify who was providing food) and the purpose of the ban (reevaluate the program).

When Norcross asked the same question everyone else is asking -- why did the City wait so long to clear the camp -- Bach couldn't say.  (The City hasn't said.)  Asked what went so wrong wrong with the City's program, Bach repeated what the Salem police had told him -- the unsafe/unsanitary conditions.  "It was done with the best of intentions, it just didn't work out", he said. 

"It just didn't work out" makes it sound as though the City uses a trial and error approach to homelessness.  Trial and error is appropriate for simple problems and games.  Not the best approach for dealing with people who feel their best option is to camp and eat under bridges.

Norcross told Bach, "This all sounds very familiar.  Other cities, especially on the west coast, are dealing with a growing homelessness problem", and asked, "Is it different in Salem, in some way?"

"It's hard to say", Bach replied.  "You can go to Bend, you can go to Portland, you can go to Salem, you can go to Eugene, it's a problem that a lot of cities are trying figure out how to deal with.  Salem has one approach, Portland and Multnomah County have a different approach", but he couldn't say what either was. 

So, after two years of covering homelessness in Salem, Bach cannot describe Salem's approach to homelessness.  Is that because he isn't paying attention?  Or might it be because Salem doesn't actually have what anyone would recognize as a plan?

Bach did, by the way, mention Salem's Homeless Rental Assistance Program.  He told Norcross that HRAP clients were ultimately supposed to become self-sufficient, which isn't quite accurate, although it is what the program's annual report says.    

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Last revision: 2 March 2020

February 2020:  Salem Housing Authority and ARCHES created by-name housing preference list of those camping on downtown sidewalks.  City closed sidewalks periodically for cleaning.  Council considered adjusting camping ban but went for sit-lie instead under pressure from Mayor Bennett.    

January 2020:  Council declared an emergency relating to unsheltered residents effective through the end of March and set up rules for a pilot car camping program.  Council declined to permit organized camping or use Pringle Hall as a temporary shelter.  City closed portions of Center (Nordstrom's) and Liberty (Rite Aid) (twice) to allow Service Master to clean the sidewalks overtaken by people living in the streets, at a cost of about $15K.  City Hall reporters Jonathan Bach left the Statesman Journal and Troy Brynelson left Salem Reporter.

December 2019:  Robert "Velvet Hammer" Marbut replaced Matthew "Housing First" Dougherty as director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.  HUD gave the go-ahead for Marion and Polk Counties to leave the ROCC and form their own CoC.  City Council delayed the camping ban effective date to December 16 to allow staff to develop recommendations for an organized camping program and decided instead to expand warming shelter program.  The hastily formed plan immediately ran into problems.  The day the ban went into effect, the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the 9th Circuit's decision in Martin v. BoiseRhonda Wolf replaced Ron Hays as United Way Director.  United Way began operating a Safe Sleep program for women across the street from the Lighthouse shelter.  

November 2019: City Council removed the sit-lie provisions from the proposed ordinance bill, leaving only the camping ban.  With its Lighthouse shelter less than half full, TSA stopped doing intakes.

August-October 2019: Law enforcement cleared long-established camps from the area around Wallace Marine Park and from Cascades-Gateway Park.  Some campers moved into downtown, forming a substantial camp in the 600 block of Commercial Street, around The ARCHES Project building.  Homelessness remained the City's top concern (46%) in the 2019 Customer Satisfaction Survey.  United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley began developing a pilot mobile crisis assistance program based on Eugene's CAHOOTS program.

July 2019: Area leaders agreed to form a regional CoC development council.  City's attempt to revive its failed sit-lie ordinance was delayed for the purpose of conducting public forums.  

June 2019: City informally decided not to try and regulate benevolent meal distributions.  TSA Captains Dan and Kim Williams returned to California

May 2019: Marion County voted to leave ROCC, and Yamhill County voted to remain

April 2019: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an en banc petition by the city of Boise in Martin v. Boise (formerly Bell v. Boise), leaving in place its September 2018 ruling that homeless persons cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property in the absence of adequate alternatives. 

March 2019: Polk County gave leaving ROCC in 2020 the go ahead.  The City admitted the sobering center project was not going to work.

February 2019: City turned off the old website.  Marion and Polk Counties netted record-breaking number of unsheltered in first seven-day Point-in-Time homeless count.  Homelessness surged to the top concern in a PDX poll.  OHCS issued an "historic" Statewide Housing Plan and the legislatively required Final Budget Note Report.  Salem's Food and Sundries Distribution to the Homeless Community (Food Task Force) held first two meetings.  Former Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson and MWVCAA Director Jimmy Jones recommended that the MWHI Steering Committee work to reform a local CoC, possibly including Yamhill County.

January 2019: Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson officially retired.  The City Council advanced Ordinance Bill 23-18, second reading, repealing SRC Chapter 20G and dissolving the CSHC.  City cleared camp, concrete tables, and installed barricades to prevent vehicular access to the area under Marion Street Bridge, saying the "no trespassing" restriction would be enforced.  Sobering center annual operating costs gap widened to $.5M.  Task force created to look at rules for distributing free food and sundries in City parks.  Recruitment for new Homeless Program Coordinator failed.  The Salem Police Department "POP" (“Problem-Oriented Policing”) team began working the city’s code enforcers to reduce the number of derelict buildings, drug houses and illegal homeless camps in the city.  Record number of criminal defendants in Oregon unable to aid and assist/stand trial.  See Friedman, G. "Amid statewide crisis, Oregon sets for record number of mentally ill people charged with crimes."  (22 April 2019, Oregonian.)  Apartment rents in the Salem Keizer area rose 10% on average since 2017 (the average rent for a studio apartment was $782, a 14% increase year-to-year. A one-bedroom, one-bath apartment cost $884 on average, a 13% increase. And a three-bedroom apartment ran $1,297, a 10% change).  Apartment vacancy rate was 2.28%.

December 2018: Shelter for minors ("Taylor's House") opened under contract with DHS.  See Alexander, R. "For the first time in a decade, Salem has a shelter for homeless teens."  (21 January 2019, Salem Reporter.) 

November  2018: Salem Warming Network established to provide shelter when temp forecast at 32 and below.

October 2018: Jimmy Jones promoted to head Mid Willamette Community Action Agency, altering the agency's image as being primarily focused on early childhood.  Late audits and audit findings resulted in "seriously deficient" notice to MWVCAA from the Department of Education.  

September 2018City survey showed homelessness remained top issue for Salem residents (33%).  Salem Reporter began publishing.   Salem Weekly folded.  Salvation Army announced plans to build low-income apartments out by the Kroc Center.  Regional Homeless Program Coordinator quit.  HRAP marked the end of its first year.  See Bach, J. "Salem's Homeless Rental Assistance program marks first year with setbacks, successes."  (30 September 2018, Statesman Journal.)

August 2018:  Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force disbanded.  Homeless population around Wallace Marine Park swelled to 648.  HUD notified the Urban Development Department that there were unacceptable conflicts of interest in the makeup of the Community Services and Housing Commission (CSHC).

July 2018: The ARCHES Project opened its day shelter (still no showers or laundry facilities.)  Average daily attendance 107. Salem Housing Authority closed the Housing Choice Voucher waitlist again.

June 2018: Jon Reeves, MWVCAA's Executive Director since 2015, left and went to work for the State in the Early Learning Division.  His deputy, Cyndi Leinassar (formerly Astley) left soon after.  Salem Health suspended its service integration pilot.  Decision to allow UGM's conditional use permit became final.  Ken Hetsel died. 

April 2018: Salem Drop opened.  ROCC claimed Marion and Polk Counties in the annual CoC registration.

March 2018: City and ODOT cleared homeless encampment from the Center Street Bridge bike/walkway.

February 2018:  Regional Homeless Program Coordinator began work on the Mid Willamette Homeless Initiative's strategic plan implementation.  Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force met for the first time. 

January 2018: The annual homeless count netted 1,218 individuals in Marion and Polk Counties, 619 unsheltered.  For the first time, the number of counted unsheltered exceeded the shelter count.  Without prior notice, Public Works placed concrete tables, benches and barriers under Marion Street Bridge and implemented a reservation/permit process for those wishing to serve meals there. 

November 2017: The City Council allocated $45,000 for a Homeless Program Coordinator at the MWV Council of Governments and $12,500 for "start-up funding" for a 100-Day Challenge "to address Youth Homelessness."

September 2017:  Poll showed homelessness top concern of Salem residents (26%).  Salem Health launched a pilot service integration program with teams in Woodburn, North Marion, and North Salem.  WestCare Veterans Home on Center Street opened.  Proposed sit-lie ordinance failed to pass.  Mayor offered task force to deal with issues downtown, instead.

July 2017: The Salvation Army announced it was closing its transitional housing program.  City issued an information report ("paper") on the Mayor's sobering center.  United Way of the Mid Willamette Valley reneged on a promise to extend 2016 grants another year.  Santiam Hospital launched a service integration program.  Salem Housing Authority launched HRAP.

June 2017: Benches removed downtown and outside Center Point offices on Cottage Street.  City Attorney started drafting a "sit-lie" ordinance.  UGM Director Bruce Bailey resigned.  MWVCAA purchased the 16,000 SF building at 615 Commercial Street NE, closed The ARCHES Project day center on Madison Street and moved.  The next day, the number of visitors to HOAP doubled to 140.  ARCHES had not coordinated the closing with HOAP and would not reopen its day shelter until late July 2018.

April 2017: Salem Housing Authority purged the Housing Choice Voucher (aka Section 8) waitlist of more than 9,000.  City created work groups, including the Affordable Housing, Homelessness and Social Services work group, to develop recommendations for a City-wide strategic plan. 

February 2017:  Mid Willamette Homeless Initiative Task Force disbanded.  Mayor Bennett announced an ambitious program to house Salem's chronically homeless, which would become Salem Housing Authority's Homeless Rental Assistance Program (HRAP).  He also announced immediate plans to open a sobering center, but the plans would quickly fall apart.

January 2017: The annual homeless count netted 1,151 individuals in Marion and Polk Counties, 287 unsheltered. The "Arta-Potties" project ended.

December 2016:  Oregon's Secretary of State audit found "critical Improvements needed" at OHCS.  Polk County published first Community Resource Guide (booklet).  Salem's city manager issued memo re "Homelessness in Salem."  

November 2016: Margaret Salazar, formerly of PDX HUD, succeeded Margaret Van Vliet, who came to OHCS from the PDX Housing Bureau, as OHCS Director.  OHCS, with advice from ORDOJ, asked the Housing Stability Council to expand the SHAP and EHA programs to allow funds to be used for capital acquisition, i.e., real estate, for "homeless shelter facilities and transitional housing."  See the OHCS memorandum in support of the expansion here at page 13, and notes on the Housing Stability Council's discussion here at page 6.

October 2016: Polk County contingent quit Mid Willamette Homeless Initiative Task Force.

September 2016:  Poll showed homelessness top concern of Salem residents (17%).

August 2016: Home of the Brave placed its clients in other programs and closed its doors, likely for financial reasons.

June 2016:  The Homeless Empowerment Collaborative, an outgrowth of the Salem-Keizer School District's Students in Transition Education Program (STEP), stopped meeting.  The group's purpose was to bring maximum supports to students experiencing homelessness by collaborative case management across agencies and programs, but they were mostly unsuccessful because critical programs, such as the Center for Hope and Safety, were unwilling to participate, presumably out of concern for parental safety/confidentiality.  

March 2016:  First Congregational UCC ended its "Sleeping Ministry" and Oregon ended the 2016 legislative session with claims of victory for housing policy and funding, including allocating $10M to two OHCS progams: the State Housing Assistance Program ($2M) and the Emergency Housing Assistance program ($8M) for "homeless prevention and assistance." 

January 25, 2016 Salem authorized execution of the Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative charter.  Councilor Bednarz assured the City Council that the Initiative brought together knowledgeable people who would "solve, or reduce, or do something to homelessness in our community."  The annual homeless count netted 856 individuals in Marion and Polk Counties, 187 unsheltered. 

Winter 2015:  Community members complained repeatedly about MWVCAA's refusing to activate emergency overnight shelters despite lows in the 20s, and the lack of adequate shelter for homeless youth.  In response, Mayor Peterson asserted that she was,
working actively with Marion County, Polk County, City of Keizer and City of Salem, and we're forming a task force that will be a regional task force on homelessness and related issues. So I assure you that we are doing many things on many levels and we have been for quite some time...And so, I encourage you to recognize, if you will, please, that we have been working very hard and we have been working diligently and have been providing resources.  Can we provide all of the money that's needed for all of the problems? No.
(December 7 2015 City Council meeting.)  A few days later, the City published the Mayor's "Update on Efforts to Alleviate Homelessness", announcing the creation of a task force on homelessness.  Mayor Peterson said she and the other officials on the task force, "are not grabbing headlines, we are grabbing the problem", possibly referring to a recent west coast mayors' summit on homelessness which she had been criticized for not attending.    

The Salem Housing Authority Commission directed SHA to pursue mixed-use, affordable housing development on North Campus of the Oregon State Hospital, and to create an affordable housing committee.  See here (information report) and here (minutes of December 14, 2015 meeting).  

October 2015: The City Council held a public hearing on the Minto Brown Island Park Master Plan, which stated (at p. 50) that "[s]everal management issues were raised repeatedly during the public [outreach] process.  The City is aware of public concerns related to illegal encampments within the park.  Significant efforts have been made in recent years to post and remove camps as they are discovered.  Parks Operations should continue to work closely with [SPD], Minto-Brown Parks Patrol and residents to manage this problem.  Additional information and signs with appropriate information could provide a useful tool for concerned citizens." 

Later in the month, the City Council heard from members of the First Congregational UC Church, who commented that the Council had not addressed "the plight of the homeless" at any City Council meeting in the past 3 years.  In response, Mayor Peterson cited the Council's August 31st work session, and said, "the City of Salem can't do it alone...we are not, in fact, charged to do that, and we're not funded to do that."   

Also in October, Mayor Peterson asked the Marion County Public Safety Coordinating Committee (whose purpose is "to increase public safety by enhancing law enforcement efficiencies and reducing crime") to add homelessness to its work plan, consistent with her view of homelessness as primarily a public safety concern.

Finally, plans for Riverfront Youth Shelter, for minors, fell through.  See Knowlton, S.  "Group one step closer to opening youth shelter in Salem."  (25 July 2014, Statesman Journal.) 

September 2015: The City Council advanced Ordinance Bill 18-15, merging the Social Services Advisory Board and the Housing and Urban Development Advisory Committee to form the Urban Development, Community Services and Housing Commission (CSHC).  The City Council would vote to kill the CSHC in December 2018. 

Also in September, UGM's new executive director, Bruce Bailey, informed the Salem Homeless Coalition that UGM was "nowhere near a capital campaign."

Summer 2015: City staff issued a report on the status of "After Hours Parks Restrooms Closures" and the City Council held a work session titled, "Public Restrooms and Regulating Conduct in the Right of Way."

Spring 2015: The feds re-revised the federal plan to end homelessness; the Oregon legislature abolished the Interagency Council on Hunger and Homelessness, and moved responsibility for ensuring that homelessness relief efforts operate efficiently and effectively to the Housing Stability Council;  students from Sprague High School researching homelessness concluded that local governments had not "followed through" on the Marion-Polk 10-year plan; the Statesman Journal published a piece about "quality of life" ordinances and the homeless that quoted CANDO's Chair;  several individuals from business, religious and social services sectors initiated a project to provide 24/7 public toilets ("Arta-Potties") in Salem's central area (except for one toilet at the First Congregational UC Church, the program would fold in January 2018).

December 2014:  Eco Northwest's "Salem Housing Needs Analysis" published, showing more than one third of Salem households have problems paying for housing, and that Salem was short 6,400 units affordable by households earning <$25K/yr.

Fall 2014: Without noticeable fanfare, the City released for distribution posters developed for a "Real Change"-type of campaign to discourage panhandling.  See here, here, and here [].

July 2014: The Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency and partners applied for grants to staff the Riverfront Youth Shelter for minors.  See Knowlton, S. "Group one step closer to opening youth shelter in Salem." (26 July 2014, Statesman Journal.)  Plans fall short and the shelter doesn't open.

June 2014: UGM executive director Michael Rideout reported to CANDO that UGM was in the middle of a capital campaign to raise funds for a new Men's Mission, and projected they would break ground in the spring 2016.  The capital campaign later stalled, and would not restart until October 2018.

May 2014: CANDO was informed that the Safe Streets and Parks Task Force's proposal to provide portable toilets downtown was likely going nowhere.  See here.

March 2014: Mayor Peterson volunteered at a warming shelter and learned that lack of access to toilets after-hours downtown was a serious problem.  See [].  The Mayor asked the Safe Streets and Parks Task Force to consider how the City might provide "toilets and sanitary services for the homeless."  See Attachment A, here.

January 2014: Salvation Army reopened the renovated, adults-only, Lighthouse Shelter, capacity of 83. 

November 2013: Financial mismanagement forced the Salem YWCA to close the Salem Outreach Shelter, which provided transitional housing for ten families (a family defined as a parent or legal guardian with minor child(ren)).  Following renovations, The Salvation Army reopened the Lighthouse Shelter (adults only, though, no more families). 

September 2013: Home of the Brave, a transitional housing program for male veterans located in a seven-bedroom house at 655 Cottage St, NE, and supported by private donations, including substantial underwriting by Larry Tokarski, opened its doors.  The program folded three years later.  To hear an interview with HOB's Deputy Director, Gerald Pygott, go here.

June 2013: After losing federal grant funding three years in a row, Northwest Human Services closed an extended stay shelter for youth that was partly funded by the City of Salem.

Spring 2013: Salem Mayor Anna Peterson appointed a "Safe Streets and Parks Task Force", "to address complaints and concerns from the public about begging and loitering downtown, urban camping in our city parks, and the serious increase in homeless families and individuals in need of services and shelters."  See the 2013 Mayor's State of the City Address here.

The Salvation Army closed the Lighthouse Shelter for renovations that did not include additional bathrooms for the family units.  The shared-bathrooms arrangement posed a safety risk to children, so Lighthouse became an adults-only shelter.  

2012: The national plan was revised [] to prioritize chronic/veteran homelessness. The Salem Housing Authority directed the Mid-Valley Conference on Homelessness [].

2011: The U.S. OIG found that MWVCAA, the agency responsible for coordinating Salem's homeless/anti-poverty efforts, had "paid for HPRP services without adequate supporting documentation for participant eligibility and expenses and did not always enter participant data accurately into the HPRP reporting systems" and would be required to take corrective action.  MWVCAA decided it couldn't manage the Marion and Polk CoC any longer.  Marion and Polk County then "merged" with the 26-county Rural Oregon CoC.

2010: Eight years in, the national plan to end homelessness [] was "tactically rebooted."  Marion County launched its "Reentry Initiative." 

2009: Homeless count in Marion and Polk Counties reached 3,244The U. S. District Court ruled Portland's "sit-lie" ordinance unconstitutional.

2007: The Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency hired Pacific Policy and Research, Inc., to conduct a baseline survey of homelessness in Marion and Polk Counties (earliest Point-in-Time homeless count.)

2008: The Great Recession hit.

2004 or earlier: Salem, Marion and Polk County were registered with HUD as a "Continuum of Care" for the purpose of receiving federal homeless assistance funds under HUD's Continuum of Care Program.  This local CoC, which was called variously the Marion and Polk Continuum of Care Collaborative and the Mid-Valley Housing and Services Collaborative, would dissolve in 2011, and become part of the Balance of State CoC, aka the Rural Oregon CoC or ROCC.   

2002: Hundreds of cities began adopting 10-year plans to end homelessness in response to a call from the federal government and The National Alliance to End Homelessness.  UGM's Simonka House (formerly Salem Women's Home) moved to 5119 River Road N. in Keizer and was renamed Simonka Place, capacity 45 (would later double).

2001: St. Francis Shelter board purchased Cardinal Lane Apartments at 1820 Berry Street SE and relocated, 14 units.

2000: Homeless activist and advocate, Jack Tafari, lost his job in Salem and moved to Portland.

1997: CANDO approved the decision to demolish the Derby Building that included the Senator Hotel to make way for Courthouse Square.  

1995:  HOAP moved to 694 Church Street NE.

1987: President Reagan reluctantly signed into law the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.  Mickey and Virginia McClure and Eddie Smythe opened St. Francis Shelter in the Devereaux Apartments at 1492 State Street, 10 units.

1986: Northwest Human Services opened the Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Project (HOAP).

1982: "The federal government just got out of the business of housing" and began emphasizing home ownership.  The National Coalition for the Homeless was formed.  The Senator Hotel in Salem was renting one-bedroom apartments with shared bathrooms for $84 to $149 per month.

1981: Ronald Reagan became U.S. President.

1969: Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, Inc. registered as an Oregon business entity.

1968: UGM opened the Salem Women's Home in a two-story house on 14th Street NE, capacity 13.

1966: Salvation Army built the Lighthouse Shelter at 1901 Front Street NE.

1953: Union Gospel Mission (UGM) opened at 745 Commercial Street NE.