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Agenda & Minutes

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Mayor & Council (View All)

City Council Study Session Agenda & Minutes

Thursday, April 25, 2019

April 25, 2019

6:00 p.m.
Police Station, Prescott Room
219 S. Ivy, Medford, Oregon

The Medford City Council Study Session was called to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Prescott Room of the Medford Police Station on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Clay Bearnson, Kay Brooks, Tim D’Alessandro, Dick Gordon, Alex Poythress, Eric Stark, Kevin Stine; City staff: City Manager Brian Sjothun, Deputy City Attorney Eric Mitton, Deputy City Recorder Winnie Shepard
Councilmember Michael Zarosinski was absent.
Christian Nelson – Downtown Medford Association
Deputy City Manager Eric Zimmerman introduced Christian Nelson from the Downtown Medford Association. Mr. Nelson and his organization would like to implement the Main Street America program to Medford.
The association has been working with the City of Medford, Travel Medford and downtown business owners to improve the downtown core. The association has many goals, including improving the public’s perception about Medford, creating additional multi-modal transportation, beautifying the Bear Creek area, and promoting downtown housing and business.
The association recommends participating in the Main Street Program to help accomplish these goals. The designated boundaries of the downtown area to be included in the Main Street Program includes the Higher Education Center, 10th to Oakdale, Inn at the Commons to Jackson at Bear Creek. 
Mr. Nelson advised that the association is currently seeking new members and stakeholders. They would like to establish stable funding sources, continue support for local events, create new events, promote Medford Third Friday, increase demand for businesses and public art, and create a consistent look and feel throughout downtown.  He recommended an updated master plan for the downtown area. 
He requested that the City of Medford issue a Resolution supporting the City’s inclusion into Main Street America program. It is required for the association to be an approved member. He also requested the City become one of their reliable funding sources, in the amount of $98k per year. 
  • Typically Main Street America programs transition away from requiring government financial assistance after they are established.   
  • The Association has a Board with eight members.
  • The Association does plan to continue trying to create an Economic Improvement District.
  • The beautification of downtown on July 4th was appreciated.
Homeless Action Plan
City Manager Brian Sjothun spoke regarding the increase in homelessness and homeless concerns in Medford. He advised that the City is diligently working to end area homelessness and actively works with partners to assist the area homeless and low-income individuals. This plan should assist area partners to collaboratively accomplish community goals.
Medford is the largest City in Jackson County and offers the most services.  Therefore, Medford has the most impact. The homeless action plan is not a final solution, but it is a step in the right direction.
Principal Planner Angela Durant advised that the presentation provides an overview of the findings and recommendations presented in the Homeless System Action Plan. She would like to answer Council’s questions and/or concerns and seek Council direction on which items to pursue.
Principal Kris Kuntz and Associate Maureen Richey from LeSar Development Consultants Homeless Services Team were introduced. They have worked throughout California and nationwide to find solutions to end homelessness by working with communities to develop plans.
Ms. Richey outlined the purposes of the action plan, including understanding the issue and assessing the area’s strengths and challenges. The report collaborated information received from more than 100 stakeholders, surveys, site visits and interviews, documentation/history review, etc. It was determined that 732 people were experiencing homelessness in Jackson County, according to the 2018 Point‑In‑Time Count, for a variety of reasons. Homelessness is creating regional issues by increasing expenses to the public and businesses and it is impacting local business and tourism. 
Mr. Kuntz noted there is an extreme lack of resources dedicated to area homelessness.  Many people need assistance finding housing. LeSar determined that approximately 19% of local residents have to ability to find housing without assistance, 51% require some assistance and 30% will need permanent supportive housing. In addition to the lack of housing programs, there is a shortage of street outreach services. Street outreach sends people into areas for the purpose of building relationships with the people needing services. This helps the homeless more willing to accept the services they need.
Mr. Kuntz commended the area’s Veteran rapid rehousing program, noting it has an approximate 70% success rate. Rapid rehousing uses the existing rental market to provide housing for people with moderate needs that require short to medium-term rental assistance that includes wraparound services.  HUD, Continuum of Care, ACCESS and other local agencies, offer rapid rehousing services and other programs which assist families find housing; however, the funding and services provided are fairly small.
Although some homeless people suffer from mental illness, programs nationwide have determined that providing housing before treating before mental health issues is more effective. It is too difficult for a person handle mental health treatment while they are homeless.
Ms. Richey advised that the Homeless System Action Plan determined five goals and 31 proposed action items, with timelines ranging from six months to more than two years.  The established goals were:
  1. Increase the supply of affordable housing and supporting housing.
  2. Increase leadership. Collaboration and funding.
  3. Address unsheltered homelessness and encampments.
  4. Increase temporary housing programs and successful placements.
  5. Increase diversion and prevention strategies.
LeSar recommended continuing meetings with stakeholders, pursuing affordable housing, working with partners to create new resources, creating a pilot program specifically regarding Greenway, creating low‑barrier temporary housing (emergency shelter), continuing support of the Continuum of Care program and continuing to funds efforts.
Mr. Kuntz believed that the problem of homelessness can be solved in Medford based on the federal definition of ending homelessness, which occurs when homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring.  He provided 10 strategies for ending homelessness, including the commitment of local leaders, increasing outreach, implementing a housing-first system, holding housing partners accountable, directly supporting financially and through public service agencies, leveraging existing services to provide more assistance and providing employment opportunities.
Mr. Sjothun reminded attendees that grant funding will be discussed during an October study session, as well as continued discussion during the G3 meetings.
Ms. Durant received the following feedback on topics for staff to research and/or pursue:
  • Attempt to include County; it is important to have County involved
  • Angela Durant should continue to be the staff person assigned to this project
  • Somehow include mental health treatment services in any final plan
  • How does the City attract more builders interested in affordable housing?
  • What services are needed to help people leave the Greenway?
  • Would it be possible to partner with local motel owners for potential short-term living facilities?
Mr. Sjothun advised that Oregon’s Governor has set aside $50 million for affordable housing locations offering wraparound services.
The meeting adjourned at 7:51 p.m.
Winnie Shepard, CMC
Deputy City Recorder

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