Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Pointless Point in Time Count

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston


OHCS's 2019 PITC data "tableau"
Every year, the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (MWVCAA) organizes volunteers in Marion and Polk counties to survey unsheltered individuals.  The survey requires the volunteers to ask people they've mostly never met a series of highly personal questions, often in exchange for a meal, sleeping bag, tarp or other camping equipment.  This "count" of unsheltered homeless is one part of the annual Homeless Point in Time Count (PITC) that's required by HUD as a condition of receiving Continuum of Care program dollars.  Because it's so labor and resource intensive, HUD requires communities to do the unsheltered count only in odd-numbered years.  MWVCAA, however, conducts the unsheltered count every year.

Last January, "everybody" thought the count had netted a record number of unsheltered homeless -- over 800 -- in Marion and Polk counties.  See Whitworth, W. "Homeless PIT Count shows 20 percent increase in Marion, Polk Counties, with big caveat."  (15 February 2019, Statesman Journal.)

Unfortunately, what was reported to HUD was that Marion and Polk had counted less than 600 unsheltered individuals.  The problem?  The 28-county Rural Oregon Continuum of Care or "ROCC."

As has long been known, ROCC is an organizational disaster that cripples effective homeless services delivery at the local and regional levels, and the weakest of its weak links is its data.  As was reported to the Housing Stability Council this month,

12/6/19 OHCS Memo to Housing Stability Council at 95

This year, after ROCC finished mangling Marion and Polk's 2019 PITC data, it reported to OHCS and HUD that the total number of homeless individuals in Marion and Polk counties was not 1,462 (rough count), but 1,095 (official count).  That is to say, instead of the 20% increase over 2018 reported by the Statesman Journal, the *official* 2019 numbers reflect a decrease.  (The total count in 2018 was 1,218 but OHCS and HUD don't recognize even-year counts.  The last recognized unsheltered count was in 2017 and totaled 1,151 individuals.  See OHCS's 2015-2017 PITC data "tableau.")  To see OHCS's analysis of the official statewide data, see here.

Statesman Journal 1/30/19
ROCC isn't the only problem with the PITC.  As one might imagine, not everyone is comfortable sharing highly personal information with total strangers, as is required by the unsheltered count.  As we reported in "Seven-day PIT Count Nets Record Unsheltered", there was last year "a widespread feeling [among providers and volunteers] that campers are now actively avoiding the annual survey."  But, when we ask those most involved in the annual count whether it wouldn't be better if providers forgot about trying to do the unsheltered survey/counting in the off years, and just spent the last week in January focusing on meeting basic needs and building trust, they all say they want to keep doing it.  Why?  Because they believe there's something about doing "the count" that brings in the volunteers.  In other words, they believe they need to manipulate people to get them to show up. 

Call for volunteers for the 2018 unsheltered PITC
There's no real problem with counting the "sheltered" homeless every year.  That data is fairly easy to pull together, and we should do it as long as HUD requires it.  But, in even years, it makes less and less sense to conduct an unsheltered count.  Especially when HUD doesn't require it, and when there is more reliable data available elsewhere.  According to Jimmy Jones, MWVCAA Executive Director, we know from data collected through ServicePoint, Oregon's Homeless Management Information System, that Salem alone has about 1,800 homeless individuals inside the Urban Growth Boundary, 1,400 of whom are unsheltered (400 in cars, 1,000 outside).  See "Camping Ban for Christmas." 

As we have a very good idea how many unsheltered there are in Salem, there's no justification for sending people in even years into the Canyon or the woods outside Woodburn or Dallas, looking for camps and upsetting people who just want to be left alone.  There's no point in collecting "data" that won't be used.

The 2020 PITC is especially going to be an exercise in futility.  Law enforcement have dispersed (and dispersed, and dispersed) the nearly 200 people who for years lived in the area around Wallace Marine Park.  Last year, they were counted, but they won't be this year.    

In 2020, and in all even years, volunteers should simply be asked to help out at the Salem Community Homeless Connect or the Santiam Outreach Community Center or one of the warming centers in the Polk County or City of Salem warming networks.  If, as Jones has said on multiple occasions, community resources for the homeless are well and truly spread "like butter over warm toast", the answer cannot continue to be, "We've always done it this way."       

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Camping Ban for Christmas

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

 

Revised 23 December 2019

Salvation Army Social Services 12/13/19
For people experiencing homelessness, the 2019 holiday season did not bring much comfort, much less joy.

This week, not only did the City start enforcing its camping ban, The Salvation Army closed its doors for ten days just to focus on its "Christmas Toy & Joy Project" over at the Kroc Center.  Too bad for any camper that might want a bed at TSA's 80-bed Lighthouse Shelter, as TSA's not been doing intakes for weeks now, despite being nowhere near full, fueling speculation that TSA intends to close it down come spring.

Across the street in the Inside Out ministries building, United Way has begun operating the 10-bed, low-barrier overnight shelter for women called Safe Sleep.  See Brynelson, T. "Homeless women in Salem get new chance for a safe night indoors."  (December 12, 2019, Salem Reporter.)  United Way hopes to raise $150K for renovations to the building (which is leased for $1/year) that are needed to remodel the kitchen, add a shower and laundry facilities, and allow the shelter to expand to 50 beds.

TSA's Lighthouse Shelter                                                            Inside Out's Safe Sleep

Did we mention there's a staffed, 80-bed shelter (kitchen, showers, laundry) operating at less than half capacity across Front Street? 

After a brief flirt with the bad idea of allowing organized camping on City property (estimated cost for a 40-tent site ~$1M/yr) (see "Will Downtown Host Organized Camping"), the City Council agreed by a 6-3 vote to spend $213K from the City's contingency fund to keep two of the four warming centers (92 spaces) in the Salem Warming Network open every night through March, beginning 1/1/20.  See Brynelson, T. "Salem leaders decide to shelter homeless instead of setting up public camping."  December 10, 2019, Salem Reporter.)  That's about $26 per night per mat.  ($213K/90 = $2,367/92 = $26.)

The overnight warming centers currently open when the mercury drops to 32 degrees.  There are four approved sites:  South Salem Friends Church (capacity 54), First Presbyterian Church (78), Church at the Park (14) and Capital Park Weslyan Church (109).  However, these sites rely heavily on volunteers.  So far this year, Capital Park Weslyan Church has not been able to open.  This means that the City has only 146 out of a possible 255 spaces available in the warming network.

When the Council voted on December 9 to keep two of the four warming centers open every night for 90 days, it was believed that both Church at the Park (capacity 14) and First Presbyterian Church (78) had agreed to expand.  Turns out, however, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church was not 100% on board with the expansion.  See Bach, J. "Salem drops sanctioned homeless camping idea, agrees to pay for warming shelters."  (December 10, 2019, Statesman Journal.)  That left the City with just Church at the Park -- capacity a mere 14 people.

City NOT likely to allow stopgap camping at this WMP parking lot
A December 18 press release announced that City staff "are rapidly exploring other sites for shelter operations by reaching out to other churches in the warming shelter network and looking at other buildings as possible options for a 90-day nightly operation."  On December 20, it was reported that City officials were considering allowing camping on City property "possibly at West Salem's Wallace Marine Park" until a wet shelter site is found.  See Bach, J. "Salem reconsiders homeless tent camping as 'stopgap' until 90-day warming shelter" (December 20, 2019, Statesman Journal.)  

12/23/19 Update:  Statesman Journal reported "City officials...backed away" from sanctioning camping, and seemed to suggest they were at some point considering allowing unsupervised camping on City property.  See Bach, J. "Salem homeless told to leave Oregon Capitol grounds after establishing camp in protest."  (23 December 2019, Statesman Journal.)
 
In January, City staff will submit plans for a car camping program.  Eugene's program is run by St. Vincent de Paul and costs the city more than $160K/yr.  Jimmy Jones, Executive Director of the Mid-Willamette Community Action Agency told the Council on December 9 that Salem has about 400 residents living in cars.  See also Bach, J. "Downtown Salem homeless warned to decamp by Wednesday morning as sweep looms."  (December 17, 2019, Statesman Journal.)  "The homeless population inside the urban growth boundary — not counting people in transitional housing programs or those who are couch surfing — stands at about 1,800 people. That figure includes about 330 in emergency shelters, 400 in cars and 1,000 people outside."  The 330 in emergency shelters doesn't count the 146 warming center spaces that are available when activated.  

Union Gospel Mission hosts the vast majority of those in shelters.  The Men's Mission's capacity is ~100 in summer, with another 48 in winter, and Simonka Place can hold up to 100.  The Salvation Army comes in second with a capacity of 80, however, as noted above, access has lately been limited to about 30.  Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network can shelter up to 14, short term, in church buildings, and the aforementioned Safe Sleep program can shelter 10.  A number of other programs provide shelter beds for certain sub-populations (youth, DV victims).   

TSA gave Safe Sleep 2 beds
It's estimated that between one third and one half of the 1,000 Salem residents living outside would not accept an offer of barracks-style shelter except in extreme conditions.  That means, as a practical matter, Salem reasonably needs another 330 to 500 "duration" shelter spaces (spaces that are available 7 nights/week), just to meet residents' basic needs.

The City's prepared to allow tent-camping until it can provide around 100 duration shelter spaces for three months, and allow car camping if sites can be found.  But a car-camping program will not add shelter spaces, it will only make life more tolerable for those already car-camping.  Same for a tent-camping program, whether or not it's organized.

Let's be clear.  Cars and tents are not housing.  According to HUD, they're not even shelter.  Camping is not a "best practice", it's not "Housing First", and it's surprisingly costly, both for the campers, and for the communities supporting camping.  Ask the City, which paid for one camp's toilets, hand-washing stations, and garbage removal.  Ask the staff of The ARCHES Project, who spent hours picking up trash over the past month, when they needed to be working cases.  Ask the Mid-Willamette Community Action Agency, which paid for security to keep campers safe.  Ask the Downtown Enforcement Team and the Salem Housing Authority, who spent hours just trying to keep the lid on.  Ask Community Supported Shelters in Eugene, which pays about $400/mo to support one Safe Spot space.        

The City's desire to site a temporary (90-day) low-barrier shelter site asap has been intensified by pressure from the Governor's Office and other state officials.  It seems safe to say that "everyone" is aghast that the City, having known since 2017 that camping would be banned, did such a poor job of implementation planning.  The City will forever be remembered for sweeping the homeless from its streets and sidewalks the week before Christmas 2019, when there was "no place for them to go." 

If there's any benefit to embarrassing the Governor's Office, it's aid and assistance solving the problem.  The good news is that the City, having failed to find a way to cover the operating costs of the Mayor's sobering center (~$1M), will soon be getting the chance to figure out how to cover the operating costs of a permanent low-barrier shelter or navigation center (~$1M), which is approximately what the City thinks it would cost to operate a *safe* 40-tent organized camping program.  See Brynelson, T. "Salem needs 'navigation center' for homeless, state-backed report said." (December 16, 2019, Salem Reporter.); "Courtney calls for state funding to build shelters in Salem."  (December 20, 2019, Salem Reporter.)  (Salem Reporter says "shelters", but construction and operation costs for just one shelter will easily exceed the $3M to $4M Courtney's promised.)

Courtesy Jimmy Jones, Exec Dir Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency

The implementation of the camping ban upset a lot of residents, much the same way seeing tents downtown upset a lot of people this fall.  But many who've loudly condemned the City's actions and demanded that the City provide people "a place to go" object just as strongly every time the City tries pass a bond measure, raise taxes, or impose a fee.  The City needs to do a much better job of planning, obviously, but it also needs to do a better job informing staff, elected officials and the public about the true costs of maintaining 1,000 Salem residents outside, in places not fit for human habitation, which includes tents and cars, and any temporary "solution" other than housing.  Maybe then the City and the public it serves will get serious about ending homelessness using proven strategies, and not just at Christmas time. 

12/22/19 The Capitol Mall is now occupied.


12/23/19 The Capitol Mall is now unoccupied.  See Brynelson, T. "Homeless campers cleared from Oregon Capitol Mall."  (23 December 2019, Salem Reporter.)

Friday, December 20, 2019

12/17/19 Minutes




Members: Valerie Freeman, Richard McGinty 
Organizations: Raleigh Kirschman, UGM; Tyler Brown and Mark Bulgin, Isaac’s Room
City, County and State Representatives: Officer Kevin Hill; Fire Chief Mike Niblock; Councilor Cara Kaser
Guests: Lamont Smith, Sturgeon Development Partners; Chi Nguyen, Cherriots Board of Directors

The regular meeting of the CANDO Board of Directors was called to order at 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at the First Christian Church at 685 Marion Street NE, Salem.  The Chair and Secretary-Treasurer were present.  

The agenda and minutes of the October and November meetings were approved unanimously.   

In interested citizen comments, Mark Bulgin offered to answer questions about Ike Box’s application for a retroactive change of use to allow it to operate a coffee shop.  It seems that a 2009 application for a variance of the parking requirements did not include this detail, even though it was agreed to in a pre-site-plan review. 

Councilor Kaser offered to answer questions on the implementation of the City’s new camping ban and said people should listen to what Jimmy Jones, Executive Director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency said at the last CC meetings (begins at 2:26:10).  She reported that he told Council the campers will disperse “and that’s fine”, they will come back for services.  She said she didn’t get the impression that he was concerned (3:20:00).  She said that, although the Council did not direct staff to pursue organized camping, Councilors were waiting to “see what happens with the next 90 days” with the expanded warming program.   

Sergeant Hill reported that the large camp in the 600 block of Commercial Street, as well as other camps in the neighborhood (on Division Street between Liberty and High streets and in the 700 blocks of Marion and Union streets).  He said initially the ban will be complaint-driven. He said implementation involves more than just posting camps -- e.g., he coordinates with providers, contacts campers ahead of time, brings them trash bags, talks with them, and all this takes many hours.  He said that, by tomorrow, some campers will have left, some will be packing, and some have to be encouraged to move. He said to limit the pressure/stress on campers, police, the Marion County Crisis Response Team with QMHPs, Be Bold Street Ministries and ARCHES Project staff will be at the camp before the cleanup crews arrive.  He said campers would be given new sleeping bags and tarps to help them get on their way. He said they can go to the warming centers that are open. Chief Niblock said that 4 sites had been approved as warming centers: South Salem Friends Church (54), First Presbyterian Church (78), Church at the Park (14) and Capital Park Weslyan Church (109).  (Note: the warming centers are staffed mostly by volunteers. A thin volunteer base has meant Capital Park Weslyan Church has not been able to open, so only 146 out of a possible 255 spaces have been available.) 

The board heard presentations by Lamont Smith on the construction of the Holman Riverfront Park Hotel and by Chief Niblock, Salem Fire Department, on the need to increase the City’s revenue.  

Michael Livingston’s motion to take a position on organized camping on City property within CANDO passed unanimously.  Michael will draft a proposed resolution for the board’s consideration in January.  

There being no other business before the board, the Chair adjourned the meeting at 7:17 p.m.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Will Downtown Host Organized Camping?

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston


November 23, 2019 News
After years of removing campers under strained legal theories like parking strips = City parks and the obligation to maintain = the right to exclude, police will finally have  bona fide legal authority to eject campers from City rights-of-way, beginning December 16, 2020.

Violations will not be "enumerated offenses" which require exclusion if committed in a Crime Prevention District.  See Brynelson, T.  "Salem City Council approves sidewalk conduct ordinance without sit-lie aspect." (November 25, 2019, Salem Reporter.)  See Bach, J. "Homeless not banned from sitting, lying on Salem sidewalks." (November 25, 2019, Statesman Journal.)

The enactment of the camping ban was a partial victory for Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Hoffert and Board President T.J. Sullivan, who told Council on behalf of the Chamber that Ordinance Bill 10-19 was "a critical step towards ensuring a safe and welcoming community."  They were joined on November 25th by seven others who supported the bill.  All other public comment (34 people at the November 25 meeting, and 12 at the December 2 meeting) strongly opposed it.  Hoffert also told Council that the Chamber was "engaged in assisting the complex coordination required to find solutions and provide access to needed services" through the Good Neighbor Partnership.

Tom Hoffert at 11/25/19 CC meeting
When Hoffert had finished addressing the Council, Councilor Lewis asked him if he would be willing to ask his board to work with other organizations to bring forward a bond measure that would allow the City to do what's needed in this area.  Hoffert said he would "take that challenge forward." 

Hoffert blogged recently that "Salem businesses are actively supporting our homeless service provider organizations, notably partnerships with Community Action Agency’s ARCHES Project, Union Gospel Mission and their Simonka Place for Women & Children, Northwest Human Services’ HOAP and the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley."  See the November 22, 2019 Public Policy Blog post here.  We asked him whether the partnerships he referred to in the blog  meant the Good Neighbor Partnership, or something else.  He did not respond.

Tomorrow, Monday, December 9, Council will receive a staff report that includes recommendations for how the City can both implement the camping ban, and tell campers who can't or won't go to the Union Gospel Mission or Lighthouse shelters, "you can go here."  See Brynelson, T. "Salem bans open camping, and now seeks a place to host it." (December 3, 2019, Salem Reporter); Bach, J. "Salem may set aside City property for homeless."  (December 2, 2019, Statesman Journal.)  If the "here" is an area where camping is allowed, it's likely to be some place downtown, in the vicinity of Marion Square Park, if not inside the park itself.  It will have to be supported with toilets, hand washing stations, copious trash receptacles and security, both environmental and human.  It will have to meet code requirements (e.g., SRC Chapter 98) on a continuous basis.  It will be expensive to maintain, it will create tremendous liability for the City, and it will not end anyone's homelessness.

Contrary to what some, including Councilor Nordyke, seem to believe, tents are not housing; they're not even considered shelter. 

Also Monday night, Council probably will also ask staff for a report that includes recommendations for a car-camping program.  See Bach, J. "Homeless car camping plan considered by Salem city councilor."  (December 5, 2019, Statesman Journal.)  Brynelson, T. "Salem official eyes organized camping for people who live in vehicles." (December 6, 2019, Salem Reporter.)  Eugene's program costs the City about $165K per year.  The sites are scattered throughout the City.

In the absence of some alternative that's 100% volunteer-run (like Safe Sleep United, a women-only shelter that's presently due to open December 15), or mostly volunteer-run (like the Salem Warming Network) the Salem City Council is going to have to make some hard choices.  Where's the money going to come from?  Not the Chamber.  More like the Homeless Rental Assistance Program, which actually ends homelessness.  

Let's face it.  There is zero chance a bunch of amateurs can throw together a safe camping program before the camping ban goes into effect.  Zeeee-Row.  Staff know it.  Council know it.

So, there's a substantial danger that, tomorrow night, Councilors Hoy and Kaser, who started this whole mess last summer by signaling their willingness to endorse sit-lie, might seek to expiate their sin through some kind of grand gesture involving General Fund dollars, and drag a majority of soft-headed councilors with them.

But, one has to wonder, didn't Kaser and Hoy see this coming in July?  Or August?  Or September?  Or October?  If they didn't, what on earth were they thinking would happen when they got their camping ban?  They should have let staff know months ago what they wanted to have happen in the way of mitigation.  If they even genuinely want mitigation, and are not just going through the motions in response to public outcry.  Uhmmmm, yeah.  This is not the way to make sound public policy.

12/9/19 Update:  ten sites made the list, including two in CANDO. Site  requirements and cost estimates (per site);  9 chemical toilets and wash facilities for 24/7 services at $2,500 a month. Trash dumpsters and removal $1,500 a month.  Tents $400 each (durable tents used for emergency situations).  Temporary fencing $500 a month for rental or approximately $20,000 for permanent.  Lighting for safety and security $200 a month. Camp building for case manager, security, or site monitor $15,000 to $20,000 1-time expense.  Staffing to administer the site and provide security 24/7 would bring the total estimated cost to about $1M a year, per the staff report and comments at the City Council meeting. 

At the meeting, although a majority of Council seemed willing to pay for six months, they were frustrated by the news  that it would take 60-90 days stand up a safe program.  Council opted instead to expand two of the warming centers (First Presbyterian and Church at the Park) to a duration model (open every night, regardless of temperature), at a cost of $213K.  Nordyke, Kaser and Andersen told Salem Reporter a campground could still be considered at a later date.  See Brynelston, T. "Salem leaders decide to shelter homeless instead of setting up public camping." December 9, 2019, Salem Reporter.)  Camping ban effective date of December 16 did not change.           

Saturday, December 7, 2019

"Too Long...Don't Get it"

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston


"Maybe...I've been around too long...I just don't get it"
Mayor Bennett isn't the only City leader who doesn't get it, but he's the only one, so far, to admit he doesn't get it.

Yes, we know he doesn't really think he doesn't get it.  He thinks the Council members who voted against sit-lie don't get it.  But he's wrong.  It is he who is clueless, and here's how, not in order of importance:

He, a privileged white male, thinks he can justify a ban on sitting and lying on sidewalks with the argument, "Look, these people are choosing to be homeless."

He, a privileged white male, thinks the Council should approve and not question the need for a sit-lie ban just because his buddy the Chief of Police says he needs it.

He, a privileged white male, is "amazed" that anyone would suggest anyone on the Salem police force might have "some sort of inappropriate relationship with the public they serve", because he himself had never heard such a complaint, despite having just been informed by the sole person of color on the Council that she had received such complaints and found them credible.

He, a privileged white male, is "amazed" that "there's so much willingness to say 'no'" to what amounts to a "trust the police" policy that's opposed by Latinos Unidos Siempre, Mano a Mano, PCUN, RJOC, American Friends Service Committee, Planned Parenthood, Safe Routes Partnership, Disability Rights Oregon, Oregon Law Center, the Homeless Coalition, 4 Salem neighborhood associations, almost 400 Salem residents with lived experience, and the overwhelming majority of those who offered public comment at three public forums and the City Council session on November 25, 2019.



He, a privileged white male, thinks it's somehow appropriate or funny, after a female Councilor, the only person of color on the Council, is applauded for sharing her experience of homelessness as a result of domestic violence and asking her colleagues to consider the impact of sit-lie of those who are already vulnerable and traumatized, to turn to the Council and say, "Do you want to vote? Or would you like to hear more clapping?"

He, a privileged white male, views sit-lie as being simply about "people in the homeless community behaving badly" and questions of who will be affected and where they came from in the homeless community as being "absolutely unrelated."

He, a privileged white male, expects to bring sit-lie back to Council a third time if "we continue to have the kind of behavioral issues", despite a complete absence of evidence that laws aimed at social control are an effective means for dealing with the behaviors of those who lack the resources to meet their basic needs.

Yes, based on his performance in this particular area, the Mayor has been around too long and doesn't get it.  But then, any amount of time in public service is too long for someone who doesn't get it.  Oh, and another thing, Mayor Bennett.  Salem does not have the largest Housing First program in Oregon.  It's perhaps the largest outside Portland and Eugene, but not in Oregon.  See, e.g., here, here, here and here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Will Code Enforcement Trump Council?

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston


Becky Beaman has a camping plan
Becky Beaman, one of 17 offering public comment on Ordinance Bill 10-19 (now mainly a camping ban) Monday night, has a plan for the City to allow one tent camp and one car camp in each Ward.  See here pp 6-20.  The only problem is, she needs the consent of the property owners and someone to run the program(s).  Sound familiar?  If not, see "Sanctioned Camping" for a history of such efforts in Salem.

To the surprise of many, Council amended the camping ban to make an exception for areas designated by the City (Nordyke), and delayed  enactment for two weeks to allow City staff to identify City property suitable for camping (Andersen).  See Brynelson, T. "Salem bans open camping, and now seeks a place to host it." (December 3, 2019, Salem Reporter); Bach, J. "Salem may set aside City property for homeless."  (December 2, 2019, Statesman Journal).  The amendments signaled a   willingness of a majority of Council to consider, over Mayor Bennett's dead body, allowing what Councilor Kaser refers to as "organized camping" on City property.  The last time Councilor Kaser asked the City to consider allowing camping on City property, the idea was shot down  immediately, mainly by Salem Police.

Kinda makes you wonder what Chief Moore is thinking now.  He goes to Council seeking unfettered discretion to police people for sitting and lying on sidewalks and a simple camping ban, and now he's looking at having to police an impromptu, amateur camping program.  He's got to wonder, "Can this be happening?"

But consider this:  not a single public comment (out of 16 written and 17 oral) offered Monday night supported the camping ban.  Not one.  Made playing to the opposition, so filled with moral conviction, almost inevitable.        

Council directed staff to return next Monday (December 9) with a list of suitable properties and some kind of staff recommendation to guide use.  Assuming they are able to ID one or more properties by next Monday, the meeting should be very interesting to watch.  What limitations will staff propose?  What kind of supports will the Council expect the City to provide and for how long?  How is providing those supports likely to affect various departmental budgets, if at all?  What kind of liability will the City have to assume?  Who, if anyone, will step forward to implement the program?  What will the neighbors and neighborhood association have to say?

Council's actions are based on the premise that the campers who will be displaced by the camping ban, primarily the 60+ people camping in the 600 block of Commercial, near The ARCHES Project, "have nowhere to go" (having previously been driven downtown from the area around Wallace Marine Park).

Problem is, those campers are going to be rousted, dispersed and decamped 24-48 hours after the Neighborhood Enhancement Division declares the camps a public nuisance under SRC Chapter 50.800, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, based on Brady Rogers' statements to the Council last night.  Jimmy Jones, the Executive Director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, says campers when rousted just "scatter."  In other words, they're not waiting around two weeks for the City to organize a camping program.

And there goes Council's justification for emergency measures to allow camping on City property.

All this was evident last night, of course, but everyone was either feeling triumphant, or scrambling to understand how they'd just been sandbagged, so the pointlessness of it all didn't quite sink in.  Welcome to Salem, where there is no comprehensive policy on homelessness, and everything ends up being an emergency. 

12/4/19 Update:  after consultation with police, the Urban Development Department and staff of the Mid-Willamette Community Action Agency, it appears Rogers has decided not to declare the camps in the 600 block of Commercial, near The ARCHES Project, a public nuisance, but instead to wait until such time as the camping ban takes effect on the 16th before posting.  It remains highly unlikely that a viable camping program will be in place by that time.  See Brynelson, T. "Tents around The ARCHES Project may stand until camping ban takes effect."  (December 4, 2019, Salem Reporter.)