I. CALL TO ORDER:Chair Buz Ortiz calls the June 1, 2007 meeting to order at 9:05 a.m. and asks for roll call. Present: Maggie LaMont, Stuart Liebowitz, Jeana Woolley, and Chair Buz Ortiz. Absent: Scott Cooper, John Epstein, and Larry Medinger.
PUBLIC COMMENT: None
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Chair Ortiz asks if there are any corrections to the minutes. There being no corrections, the Motion was read:
MOTION: LaMont moves that the Housing Council approve the minutes of the May 4, 2007 Council meeting.
VOTE: In a roll call vote the motion passed unanimously. Members Present: LaMont, Liebowitz, Woolley and Chair Ortiz. Absent: Cooper, Epstein, and Medinger.
CONSENT CALENDAR: Dona Lanterman, Single Family Manager, asks if Council has any questions. LaMont comments on how expensive housing is, with a $300,000 purchase price. Chair Ortiz says that’s cheap in Portland, but if you look at the price per square foot, it’s $252 per square foot.
MOTION: Woolley moves that the Oregon State Housing Council approve the Consent Calendar.
VOTE: In a roll call vote the motion passed unanimously. Members Present: Epstein (arrived at 9:10), LaMont, Liebowitz, Woolley, and Chair Ortiz. Absent: Cooper and Medinger
SINGLE FAMILY REPORT: Dona Lanterman, Single Family Manager, asks if Council has any questions. Woolley says it looks like the activity picked up. Lanterman responds that yes it has, and they have been very busy. LaMont asks for an explanation of the index. Lanterman explains that it shows affordability in the area. For example, halfway down in the group there is Jackson at 6.39%. For income versus affordability of the property, that is out of balance. Basically the average person cannot afford to live in Jackson County based on the housing ratios. LaMont asks what the index would be if it was within reason. Lanterman says it would be lower, and that it can go all the way to 2%. LaMont asks if 2% is good affordability. Lanterman says yes. LaMont comments that it looks like most of them are more than that. Lanterman explains that they were just showing the index for Oregon and how it does not agree with the overall housing affordability versus the income.
Merced states that before moving to the next item on the agenda, he would like to introduce the new Housing Council member appointed by the Governor last month and approved by the Senate, Mr. Francisco López, who will be joining Council effective July 1. López says he is honored and looking forward to serving this Council, and thanks Merced and Chair Ortiz for their service and representation of the Latino community. He explains that he is originally from El Salvador and has been in the United States for about 22 years. His advocacy with affordable housing started when he came to Oregon and went to a labor camp for farmworkers in Hillsboro, through the Catholic Church, where he was was appalled to see the conditions, and started advocating for that, and started to work with adults with development disabilities in eight counties. He says he is looking forward to serving on Council and recognizes the work Council has done for farmworker housing and, most recently, for adults and children with development disabilities. He says he is thankful and excited to serve.
Merced also congratulates Maggie LaMont who was reappointed by the Governor for another four years.
Economic Opportunity Program – Will White & Howard Cutler, Bureau of Housing & Community Development (BHCD). White reports that the mission of Portland Bureau of Housing and Community Development is to focus on increasing and improving opportunities for low-income people in the community. They are designated as the agency to receive the City’s share of community development block grant money, HOME monies and other funds that on a statewide level also come to OHCS. They have a budget of about $30M. Roughly 80% of that comes from federal sources, but increasingly the City Council has been approving General Fund monies to work on there initiatives because they have been impressed with the success of the work that they have been doing. About four years ago they completed a strategic planning process with the community that really shifted the way they take on the work of trying to increase opportunities for low- income people. They shifted from the former strategies that they had been following through the 90s that they called “place-based strategies,” toward “people-based strategies.” The place-based strategies identified low-income sections of the City, and made investments, particularly in capital improvements in those areas in order to try and raise that whole area. What they saw, even during a very prosperous decade, is that low-income people were often left behind, even as revitalization dramatically improved those communities. The areas of Alberta Street and Mississippi Streets, and other areas like that, were dramatically improved. But in many cases the people that benefited were new people coming in, and long time lower-income residents were often forced out of their communities, displaced involuntarily to other more affordable parts of our community. They retooled their programs to focus on not just whether you are living in a low-income area, but rather to look at household income and try and serve those people who are below 50% of median income, with an emphasis on those below 30% of median income where they felt the need was by far the strongest. This may be relevant as OHCS undertakes a new CFC reconfiguration, because one of the things they noted is that there could be more emphasis on the policy issues that they are actually meeting. With the new strategic plan, they narrowed their focus to three areas: affordable housing, ending homelessness, and improving the income and assets of low-income people. The discussions that took place at BHCD and in the community at that time made it clear that, while affordable housing is an important way to help low-income people, that in itself is not sufficient to change the lives of low-income households. They wanted to see what they could do to increase the income and assets of low-income people, so they could move out of needing subsidized housing, and use that as a foundation to move them towards financial independence and open up units to other people who could then get on the ladder and similarly move towards financial independence. They did not want an affordable home to be just a more comfortable place to be poor for years or decades to come. Their new economic opportunity initiative set a goal that participants would have their incomes increased by 25% over a period of three years. They felt that was an ambitious goal, but they wanted the programs that they were funding to be forced to stretch to make an impact in their community.
The two sectors that this program works in are workforce and micro-enterprise. Workforce is simply helping people that do not have a job, get a job, or those who have an entry level job improve their skills and move up to something that will give them a better income. The micro-enterprise portion of our program works with very small businesses, either sole proprietors or people with up to five employees. They have over 1,400 people involved in the workforce program and nearly 400 businesses involved in the micro-enterprise. They also have co-funding from foundations from the Northwest Areas Foundation, and the local United Way. They have also brought in support from hospitals, law schools, and others to provide legal support, health insurance, TANF support.
Howard Cutler, Program Manager for Economic Opportunity, reports that the goal is to increase incomes by 25% for participants in the program over three years. The poverty reduction system builds on the assets and skills of discreet low-income populations. It does not look at what the needs of the businesses are unless those needs are workers. It looks at what the skills of the low-income individuals are and how they can build on those skills in order to take advantage of what assets they have. Presently they are funding 29 projects, serving over 1,800 participants; 12 in the adult work force work; 9 in the youth work force; and 8 in the micro-enterprise. The challenges in 2004, when they were told they needed to narrow what they were doing, were many. They had a population of 50,000 who were at 50% and below median family income. They were disadvantaged. There did not seem to be a rung on the ladder for them to go forward. There was a sense that they had a lot of affordable housing units, lots of blight eradicated, and yet their situations, in many cases, were worsened. They looked at local and national research, saw some individual successes, but not system-wide. Another challenge is that CDBG regulations are a challenging funding source for people-based, poverty alleviation programs. The reason an individual is poor, is not just one incident alone, it happens over many years and is multifaceted. Transportation, childcare, housing, and health are all aspects of what is going on, as well as an individual’s work ethic. They need to have a comprehensive series of supports. Employer involvement was a central component, as well as peer support, and working in groups was something they found to be important. These are long-term projects. The poverty did not occur overnight, it won’t be solved overnight. They are funding projects for three years to work with individuals. The key elements are long-term assistance and the comprehensiveness of support. Micro-enterprise has the same basics, with some additional components, that are unique to running a small business.
Their annual budget is over $4M of which $2.4M is coming from the CDBG entitlement, and General Fund of $1.5M. They are also receiving funding from Northwest Area Foundation for $250,000 a year for three years, and United Way is jointing funding a couple of projects. The program has leverage both for their contractors and their participants. They have pro bono health care for all the homeless participants, and pro bono legal assistance for those who are micro-enterprises in this program. One of the programs had a $500,000 tax credit award. The Portland Family of Funds is working with one of their contractors and Portland State University business outreach program, and they have a loan fund. Their program has also been able to leverage other dollars into the system. They currently have 1,865 participants; almost 400 are micro-enterprises; and 1,476 are in workforce. Their focus has made them unique. Their guideline was 50%, but 75% of the participants are at 30% and below the median family income, so they are reaching those who are economically disadvantaged. No one has finished the three years yet. It will be this September at the very earliest. The average cost for participants is high. It is more than the Department of Labor allows, but they need to do this if they are going to have income increases over the long-term. They are averaging $5,500 a year for the first year, and $1,000 for years two and three, which is retention. Programs tend to place people, and then there is slippage because there is no one there to provide the mentorship later on. They think it is paying dividends. Others are replicating this program. Northwest Area Foundation is one of their funders, and is now funding them to work with entitlement cities in Minnesota. They worked with Duluth, they are on track to replicate the income increase component next April, and will be meeting with other CDBG entitlements in July. There are several innovations that they have undertaken. The highlights are that they are working with those at 50% or below; they have made CDBG work for people-based programs; and they have leveraged additional dollars. Some of those benefits: IDAs, TANF extensions, credit-repair program for participants, and “clean slate” program. Lessons learned: They can push the envelope and it does pay dividends; intensive technical assistance works; and early tracking and evaluations is important. Focusing on outcomes and what they are buying with their dollars has been a key and very helpful in persuading the City Council to put more money into the program. They also learned that one size does not fit all. They needed to have a variety, and by having 29 projects they have that variety. They confirmed that building on client’s assets can be successful, long-term comprehensive support is essential, they think they would like to scale it up locally, and they think other jurisdictions can do this as well.
Woolley asks if they are tracking each individual participant for the three year period. White says they are. Woolley comments that they will have good data, which is unique in these kind of programs. Cutler says they are using the same data base that we are using for tracking all of the people in their homeless programs through their HMIS system, and the economic opportunity program so they can track every individual and then aggregate that information into reports.
Woolley asks what the non-success rate is for the people who enter the program, and what percentage of those people fall off the wagon some place along the line. Cutler responds that it differs depending on the population. Individuals who are mentally ill are less successful, and variations occur for the length of time a program operates. In year one they saw more slippage than in year two. The screening for who is ready and motivated is an important component of success. In year two the programs are doing a better job of screening so they are wasting fewer resources. He believes two out of three are successes.
Chair Ortiz states that the goal is to move this population out of subsidized housing into potentially market rate housing, and asks if, by increasing the income levels, are they able to afford that jump when we are talking about $15-$17 per hour to be able to go into the market rate? White says that by the time they get up to having an income of about 50% of median, there is a good amount of housing in the private market that they can afford. At that point, not very many would be able to afford buying a home, but they can afford to get a decent quality rental apartment of their own without a government subsidy. From there we would hope that, over succeeding years and continuing to increase their incomes, they could also have a chance at homeownership.
Merced comments that there is a lot of debate among policy makers that the sectoral approach to workforce development has some built in flaws; that is, the needs of the industry sometimes far outpace the ability of the people like us to get folks ready to work in those industries in that sector. He says he wonders how they work so they are ahead of the curve of the sector’s needs or the industry’s needs, so they can be ready, willing, and able to meet those needs. Cutler explains that they are the funder and the community-based nonprofits are the fuel for those engines. Organizations like IRCO have made great strides with partnering with employers in the metals industry, and having those industries help design the training, and make commitments for employment later on. The more communication between the community-based nonprofits and the industries, the better off they will be. He says they are not the experts in that area, they are primarily the funder.
Epstein asks what percentage of their CDBG has been committed to this program. Cutler says around 15%.
Epstein asks if, prior to the program, it was used for place-based type funding, and if they have just reallocated. Cutler says they used to have seven program areas, and now they have three. The economic development budget was around 10%, so we have increased the amount going to economic development.
Lincoln Woods, Weatherization Increase Request. Roz Barnes, Housing Development Representative, introduces Dorene Warner and Jeffrey Jewel, from Human Solutions. She reports that Lincoln Woods applied to the department in the Fall of 2004 for $100,000 in Trust Fund, $700,000 in low-income housing tax credits, $500,000 in OAHTC, and $148,134 in Weatherization Funds. The project completed construction in January and has 70 units in four buildings on a two-acre site. The location is in outer southeast Portland, one-half block north of Division, and provides one, two, three, four, and five-bedroom units. The rent is structured so that each bedroom type will serve low and very-low income households. One of the two bedroom units houses an on-site manager. All the units are visible; four are accessible, and all provide internet access, including ten more internet stations in the community room. At this time, it is currently at full occupancy. The sponsor Human Solution, applied to the department in 2004 and, unfortunately, they used the rehab calculation sheet for the weatherization funds, rather than the new construction sheet. Therefore, the amount of weatherization they appeared to qualify for was more than it should have been since it was new construction versus rehab. When the review was completed by the Department, the error in the calculation sheet was discovered and they were limited to $100,000 in weatherization funds, rather than the applied for $148,134. As the project was being built and at final completion it became obvious that there were more weatherization savings from the clothes washers, additional savings in windows, and a demonstration of savings with the infiltration system. The overall project costs by that time had increased to $176,949. They increased their deferred developer fee to make up a portion of the gap, and they are contributing another $33,535 more of their cash developer fee towards that gap. At this point in time, with those increases, they are requesting another $29,469 in weatherization funds, which they do qualify for in savings to fill their gap.
Betty Markey, Housing Resources Manager, points out that with weatherization dollars, it’s what is done that is above code, and code keeps getting higher and higher on a lot of items, so there is less and less return. A couple of years ago when energy efficient appliances were used instead of older refrigerators, there was a huge return and it would almost pay for the new refrigerator. Now Energy Star appliances are everywhere and almost code, and they have to demonstrate one kilowatt hour worth of annual savings for every dollar that would go into the project.
Epstein asks if the standard is where the building code is today, and if you put more insulation into that place, that is what you are doing on top of code. Markey says that on a rehab you could take it from where it currently is up to code or farther. Epstein remarks that the code level on appliances is higher, and water heaters have not caught up yet. Markey responds that it has not yet, and that it is a gap filler, but they have to demonstrate the kilowatt hour savings.
LaMont asks if the department has plenty of weatherization money. Barnes replies yes.
MOTION: Woolley moves that the Housing Council approve an increase of Weatherization funds of $29,469 for increased weatherization measures for Lincoln Woods for a total weatherization grant of $129,469.
VOTE: In a roll call vote the motion passed unanimously. Members Present: Epstein, LaMont, Liebowitz, Woolley and Chair Ortiz. Absent: Cooper and Medinger.
Consolidated Funding Cycle
Overview. Betty Markey, Housing Resources Section Manager, reports that 21 applications were received for the Spring CFC, and 12 were selected for funding. She reviews the packet material and the funding sources. The department met its performance goals to serve households below 50%, 40% and 30%, and, in fact, exceeded its goals with over 89% of all the resources going to households below 50% of median income. The dollars were spread throughout the regions of the state. The department used to allocate the dollars according to the different regions covered by the Regional Advisors to the Department, but the dollars were spread too thin, and they had to combine central Oregon with Eastern Oregon to get enough money. 30% of what is available is set aside for targeted populations and for preservation. The remaining money is allocated, with 55% going to the urban areas of the state, which are urban areas that are currently receiving HOME dollars. Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties, and the cities of Salem/Keizer, Eugene-Springfield, and Corvallis, will compete together in the urban areas. An amount was held out for just Multnomah County, which was based on the amount they previously received in other years. The remaining 45% has gone to the rural areas of the state. Seven of the projects that were selected for funding will be presented to Council today for approval. Six are requesting HOME funds and one is a Trust Fund project.
Markey gives an overview of the following five projects, which were approved for funding without the need of Council approval:
Nuevo Amanecer Phase II, Woodburn, Oregon -- Sponsored by Farmworker Housing Development Corporation. Originally completed in 1998, and funded with farmworker tax credits, HOME, HELP dollars and Rural Development Funds. 33 of the 40 units have rural development rental assistance. Awarded $390,019 in annual low-income housing tax credits, which will be used to address construction problems caused by the original construction and design defects. Requires significant capital improvements to improve the quality of the housing. The flashing was not done correctly above all windows and doors, causing leakage. There is a massive amount of rehab required, including new siding. There is also mold in some of the framing and interior units. This is a conditional award because the department is concerned about expenses. A meeting is scheduled with the applicants next week to ensure all the work being done is necessary and to see if there are any cost savings.
Chair Ortiz asks how the project got into its current condition. Markey says she thinks it was something that happened over time and was not seen. Grading was not done properly and it was one of those things that appeared and they did not have ample resources to address it in the beginning. This is phase II of the project and there is a Phase I that is in the same situation. Phase I also came in this round and we were not able to fund it at this point. The goal was to try and do the rehab at the same time to reduce the costs.
Discussion continues about poor workmanship performed by contractors and architects. Woolley says that when projects come back for additional funding because they were not properly constructed, she would like to know who the primary parties were -- the contractor, architect, etc. She says that when we are investing public dollars to build a product to help subsidize affordable housing we need to know who is not doing a good job and make sure that we are careful.
Quincy Group Home, Clatskanie, Oregon – Sponsored by Community Access Services. Received a $100,000 Trust Fund award to provide housing to individuals with developmental disabilities. The home will allow for five of the most medically fragile, very profoundly developmentally disabled clients they work with, who are in wheelchairs, to reside in a facility that is adequate to meet their needs. This organization originally bought the two-bedroom house a year ago, they have worked with an architect, they have added on a three bedroom addition, and they have totally redesigned it to make it accessible. They have a construction loan on the property and they came to the department requesting $100,000 in Trust Fund and $75,000 in HELP to pay off that construction loan. The department did not have enough HELP resources, so it has awarded them $100,000 in Trust Fund. This reservation is contingent upon demonstrating that they can support the remainder of the mortgage with the income on the property, or identify additional resources to fill that gap.
Sandy House, Eugene, Oregon – Sponsored by Oregon Supportive Living Programs. This is a four bedroom group home, occupied by four adults with developmental disabilities who have lived in that home from 12 to 19 years. The house was built in 1955. Oregon Supported Living started operating it in 1988. Over the years there has been need for upgrading the property, and they requested $100,000 in Trust Fund and $70,398 in HELP resources. The money is being used to help them pay off $46,000 in their existing mortgage, so the property will be free and clear, and then to do some needed upgrades to the property. There has been a lot of wear and tear over the years, so they will be doing flooring, cabinets, walls, doors, new roof, windows, and updating the insulation. Having no debt will allow the sponsor to start doing a good maintenance reserve for future items.
Epstein asks if the department is paying off someone’s debt, does it allow them to releverage it again, or require them to sign a document requiring the department’s approval prior to releveraging. Markey says that normally there is a Project Use Agreement recorded against the property, and if there was a new loan the lender would ask for a Subordination Agreement because we would be in the senior lien position.
VetLIFT Phase II, Lane County -- Received $100,000 in Trust Fund and $75,000 in HELP resources to complete the purchase of the 12-unit apartment complex to house homeless veterans. VetLIFT Phase II will create a mix of transitional housing and permanent housing units. This is modeled after a project they did and the department funded a couple of years ago, which also serves homeless veterans. Many of the veterans suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses and addictions. In their first project they have had remarkable results with the participants maintaining sobriety. All of them are either employed or in vocational training. Several are reconnecting with their families and Phase II will be based on that success.
YWCA Transitional Housing Expansion, Portland, Oregon – The YWCA received a $55,000 Housing Trust Fund award to convert some existing office space in their downtown building into eight single room occupancy units, which will create housing for women and children who are escaping domestic violence. The funds are also going to be used to enlarge the kitchen and lounge area. The department had given this project some funding a few years ago and they did some residential units for women who were ex-offenders and also homeless. They have already received a grant from the United States Department of Justice to operate these transitional units.
Epstein asks if the adjustments made to the CFC application five or six months ago pertained to this cycle. Markey explains that they did not and that the department is going through an extensive re-do of the Consolidated Funding Cycle, which started five or six months ago. It is not going to be ready until Fall 2008. They hope to have the application on-line January of 2008 so people can review it before the Fall round. She says the reason they are doing that is two-fold: One is to try and simplify the amount of information that has to be submitted; look at a different approach on how to award the dollars; and incorporate more readiness to proceed. The department is working with technical assistance groups, representatives from CDCs, Housing Authorities, for-profit developers, lenders, and consultants. Vicki Massey is heading that up in the department and there are five or six other people working on it.
Canyon East. Roz Barnes, Housing Development Representative, introduces Kim Manie-Oskoii and Sandy Freeman from Housing Works (fka CORHA), and Lisa Rogers from CASA. Barnes reports that CORHA is proposing to build a 24-unit apartment complex for farmworkers and their families on 1.83 acres in Madras. Housing Works will be the owner and CASA of Oregon will be the development consultant. Housing Works currently owns the site and many adjacent properties that will eventually be developed into affordable single family homes. Canyon East will include seven two-bedroom units; 12 three-bedroom units; and four four-bedroom units, plus a two-bedroom manager’s unit. All units will have washers and dryers and a mud room at the entry of each unit. The site is close to schools, shopping centers, social service providers and state offices. Housing Works will apply later this month for a little over $2.5M from Rural Development and, if those RD funds are approved, no family at Canyon East will pay more than 30% of their income for rent. Even without the RD rental assistance, the proposed rents at Canyon East are less than the existing rents in the area. The principal industries in Madras and the Jefferson County area are agriculture, forest products and recreation. The only current farmworker specific site is a 20-unit scattered site and there are currently 10 families on the waiting list for that housing. Much of the surrounding housing stock in the Madras area is sub-standard. Canyon East will provide farmworker housing that will hopefully encourage other property owners to follow Housing Works’ lead and improve their projects.
Freeman thanks Council for their consideration of the project and says it is going to be an integral component of the revitalization of the neighborhood, which is the northern gateway to Madras, and that with their support they will be joining the City of Madras, Jefferson County, Rural Development, Housing Works, and CASA in revitalizing the neighborhood. Adjacent to this property they have purchased some land with some state Community Incentive Funds and celebrated their first homeowner across the street from this project.
Chair Ortiz asks how the community has accepted this project, and asks if they have support from the community. Freeman says yes, and that the community is embracing it. They have a Memorandum of Understanding with Jefferson County and the City of Madras specifically for this neighborhood to revitalize it. She says they are seeing neighbors that are now improving their own lots and houses, which is very gratifying.
Liebowitz asks if the $1,167 per unit listed on the Expense Statement is a requirement of RD, and that it seems higher than usual. Rogers explains that Rural Development requires a set aside of 10% of the construction cost for ten years, or 1% per year. Even though they capitalized a little bit, that is what is necessary in order to meet their regulations.
Chair Ortiz asks how many projects for farmworkers CASA has in the pipeline for this coming year, and how many units. Rogers states there are two projects; this project with 24 units, and another project they will submit in the Fall for 40 units in Boardman.