Meeting called to order @ 5:38 p.m.
Housing and Community Development Commission
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
City Hall – Medford Room 330
Present: Commissioners – Bill Boehning, Kristen Brooks, Marie Cabler, Denise James, and Chad McComas. Staff – Angela Durant. Council Liaison – Clay Bearnson. Absent: Commissioners – Dawn Blanchette, Shanon Pewtress, Jennifer Puryear, and Daniel Smith.
- Roll Call
HUD guest speakers Connor McDonnell and Sally Luken informed commissioners of HUD’s initiative to end veteran homelessness. Mr. McDonnell opened with an explanation of HUD’s Portland field office operations, which currently consists of the Office of Community Planning and Development, Office of Public and Indian Housing, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, and Office of Multi-Family Housing. Mr. McDonnell’s primary role is to simplify the complexity of the varying functions of each department and inform stakeholders of current federal initiatives. Ending veteran homelessness is a current federal initiative. Through targeted federal funding streams and the work of state and local jurisdictions, veteran homelessness has decreased 47% over the last five years. Each community receiving funding to address this issue is required to meet specific federal benchmarks. Jackson County currently receives funding from two primary sources: 1) The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs provides supportive services funding; and 2) HUD provides rental assistance in the form of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers. Together these funding streams are intended to provide affordable, permanent supportive housing accompanied by supportive services to help build self-sustainable lives. Mr. McDonnell condensed obstacles Jackson County faces to a lack of an efficient system among those working to address the issue, and a lack of affordable housing units. One example Mr. McDonnell provided related to the 313 HUD VASH vouchers granted to the Housing Authority of Jackson County (HAJC); of which approximately 81 remain un-utilized as a result of a lack of affordable units. Mr. McDonnell continued by explaining how HUD is providing our region with technical assistance through Luken Solutions to help strengthen our local Homeless Task Force in developing community-wide solutions.
Mr. McDonnell introduced our region’s technical advisor, Sally Luken. Ms. Luken opened with a statement that our community was selected among hundreds of communities across the country because of the number of homeless veterans. The most recent Jackson County Point-In-Time Count calculated veterans as 19% of our homeless population; the national average is 11%. Our region houses the largest VA domiciliary serving individuals dealing with dual diagnoses and often times more serious behavioral health issues. Ms. Luken also suggested Jackson County faces unique challenges due to a lack of affordable, safe rental units, and extremely low vacancy. These factors prompted HUD’s offer to provide ACCESS, Jackson County’s Continuum of Care agency, with streamlined technical assistance that will help prioritize homeless veterans’ needs and develop community-wide solutions. Ms. Luken made a strong statement that many homeless veterans are either about to die or have been on the streets so long that their health issues are intensifying. Discussion transitioned to the impact homelessness is having on public resources such as emergency medical and hospital services, code and law enforcement, and emergency wrap-around services.
Ms. Luken also shared comments collected from a recent community meeting to address the barriers to making progress in Jackson County. A primary topic of discussion involved the need for training in entry and exit strategies including developing a housing plan at intake rather than discharge. Agencies working with veterans are finding that many choose to remain in Southern Oregon after discharge, which is adding to the high demand for affordable rental units.
Ms. Luken addressed several questions related to the following topics: 1)Creating community buy-in; 2) Zoning densities; 3) Property resources located closer to services; 4) Why affordable housing development does not pencil out for developers; 5) Affordable housing developer incentives; and 6) Affordable housing vouchers for owner-occupied units. Lengthy discussion landed on how our community can help create buy-in. The following key points were made:
- Public Comments
Mr. Clay Bearnson, Council Liaison, concluded discussion with a brief comment regarding the lack of buy-in from the real estate and construction industry; and that priority seems to be on higher priced units.
- Stimulate partnerships by getting the right people at the table
- Increase our community’s passion for the homeless population
- Identify a champion for the cause
- Generate new money and redirect old resources
- Build local capacity to develop more complex, yet effective projects
- Create a special pool of funds and new routes for developers to obtain assistance for the development of affordable housing
- Focus on effective property management of existing rental units – redirect turnover to veterans
Minutes from July 6, 2016 were approved as submitted.
- Approval of Meeting Minutes
a) HAJC Program Income Return Request. Angela Durant recommended increasing the value of a 2016 CDBG agreement with HAJC for the City’s Homeowner Repair program from $192,257 with $75,000 eligible program income to $200,000 with $93,750 program income. HAJC’s grant application requested $200,000/$75,000. This increase recommendation was made as a result of opportunity to fully fund the program with unused 2015 capital improvement and program administration funds as well as a request made by HAJC to return $86,994 in program income. Staff confirmed that this increase would not trigger a substantial amendment to the annual action plan because the project scope would not be increased or decreased by more than 25%.
Motion: I move to approve the request to increase the original 2016 project award of $192,257 by $7,743 from unused 2015 program year funds; in addition to reallocating program income in the amount of $86,994 to the City of Medford Homeowner Repair Program for use during the 2016 program year. The total project award will be $200,000 with $93,750 in eligible program income. Motion made by Denise James; seconded by Kay Brooks. Motion passed.
- New Business
a) City of Medford Demolition- Request for Community Letters of Interest. Angela Durant provided an update on the status to the expansion of the Demolition project to utilize local nonprofit agencies to develop projects that would create emergency, transitional or affordable housing on property with abandoned, dilapidated structures. The City received three viable letters of interest from ACCESS, Habitat for Humanity and Hearts with a Mission. Mrs. Durant will be working closely with each agency to develop projects addressing both slums and blight and affordable housing. The next steps are: 1) Collect applications for each eligible project; 2) Review of applications prior to recommendation to Council; 3) Initiate a substantial amendment to the annual action plan; 4) Open a public comment period and conduct a public hearing; 4) Seek Council approval.
b) CDBG Application and Score Sheet Continued Discussion. Marie Cabler provided an update on the amendment to the CDBG application. Amendments will focus on re-organization of questions and formatting. Ms. Durant informed the Commission that Seamless Docs has volunteered to electronically format the revision. Commissioners discussed the pros and cons to moving the grant cycle up a month and agreed on the following dates:
Orientation Option 1: Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 2:00 p.m.
Orientation Option 2: Tuesday, December 8, 2016, 5:30 p.m.
Application Deadline: Monday, December 19, 2016, 5:00 p.m.
Ms. Durant agreed to finalize the draft application to be reviewed in September, and to schedule a study session to review corresponding scoring criteria.
- Old Business
Clay Bearnson commented on the process of re-zoning or changing density, and provided an update on appointing a new manager.
- Remarks from Council Liaison
a) Commissioners – Chad McComas provided an update on the Front and Third property in consideration of a lease agreement between Rogue Retreat and the City for Hope Village.
Council is also considering an offer made by a private business owner to purchase the property. Chad concluded with a request for commissioners to attend the next Council meeting to support Hope Village. Helping to house the homeless saves the public money. Commission discussed attendance to that meeting. Clay Bearnson agreed to remind other Council members of the Commission’s support.
b) Chair – None.
- Remarks from Commissioners
- Remarks from Staff
Meeting adjourned @ 7:10 p.m.