It looks pretty certain that the City of Roseburg will get $1.5 million from the state to set up a homeless shelter with services to address the issue of the unhoused in the area. Now the question becomes how to get the shelter up and running in a little over a year, which is the time limit provided by the grant.

At the City of Roseburg Homeless Commission meeting on Monday morning, members talked about the various committees that will be needed to tackle the tasks at hand, finding and securing land, deciding what type of shelter and services to provide, finding or creating a nonprofit to run the program, and more.

The first ad hoc committee to be formed will deal with handling the immediate needs of members of the homeless community, such as handing out food, clothing and items to help them shelter in place.

That committee will consist of eight to 12 members who will be selected by City Manager Nikki Messenger. Homeless commission member KC Bolton will chair the committee. This committee, like the others the homeless commission plans to set up, will not be considered a public body, and all of its meetings will be held in private.

Bolton said he hopes to get input from service providers who are already working with homeless individuals.

“We just want to make sure we’re not reinventing the wheel as we go after some of these immediate-need sorts of tasks,” Bolton said.

There could be similar ad hoc committees to deal with other pressing issues, including finding a location for a shelter and a nonprofit to manage it.

The $1.5 million is part of recently passed legislation that includes $18 million for six so-called navigation centers — or shelters with accompanying services — across the state. The others would be in Eugene, Salem, Bend, Medford and McMinnville. The legislation still has to be signed by Gov. Kate Brown.

If approved, the shelters would have to be operational by July 1, 2022, or a city could be in jeopardy of relinquishing some of the funding.

The parameters for how the money can be spent are still trickling in from the state, Messenger said. She said so far from what she can gather, Roseburg will need to have at a minimum a low-barrier shelter with restrooms that is open daily and services for those staying in the shelter.

What form that shelter will take — such as one large building where people sleep in a shared space, individual rooms, tiny homes, or urban camping with tents — will be up to Roseburg officials to determine.

Many of the hurdles that will likely arise are not readily apparent, Messenger said. For example, she talked to officials in Coos Bay who are working on a shelter there and they told her one big expense has been bringing power to each of the tiny housing units they are putting up. The cost to put up fencing and run power to each unit ran about $100,000 alone, Messenger said they told her.

“I think that one thing we’ll need to look at pretty closely is if we’re going to be providing power or not,” she said.

Then there is the issue of providing services to the shelter guests, as the grant requires.

“I really think the most critical step is to find a nonprofit to run it,” said Mayor Larry Rich, who chairs the homeless commission. “Does anyone here have a nonprofit group that could run this? If the answer is no, then it seems were going to have to do a (request for proposal) and see what’s out there.”

Homeless commission members include the heads of four prominent nonprofits in town: KC Bolton, CEO of Aviva Health; Brent Eichman, CEO of Umpqua Health Alliance; Gregory Brigham, CEO of Adapt; and Shaun Pritchard, executive director of Umpqua Community Action Network.

Another board member, Shelley Briggs Loosley, is board chair of the YMCA of Douglas County and former board chair of Casa de Belen.

Messenger said the workload associated with getting a shelter up and running has begun to tax city staff. She said at some point in the not-too-distant future the city will likely want to look at creating a position that focuses entirely on the shelter.

“Ultimately we’re going to need a project manager that owns this thing,” she said.

Mike Fieldman, legislative assistant for Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg, and former director of Umpqua Community Action Network, said he was concerned about the inability of the public to participate in the work of the Homeless Commission or even keep abreast of its efforts.

As an example, Fieldman cited emails sent to the commission that have not been shared with the public.

“How does the public know about these letters?” Fieldman asked. “How do we get comments from the community out to the general public so that they’re aware of what people are saying?”

City Recorder Amy Sowa said she would begin to attach correspondence from the public to the minutes of the homeless commission meetings.

Most commission members Monday agreed that the navigation center should be approached in phases, and the goal of the initial phase should be to satisfy the demands of the grant.

“I have confidence that we can reach the minimum levels required,” Pritchard said. “Then you know what? Then we have a victory.”

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(10) comments

mworden

K.T. Bolton, thank you for your detailed and generous posts. I have two major concerns that I'd like to state. Immediate priority is public sanitation around homeless encampments. Raw human waste is a danger to everyone.

Longer term concern is the importance of locating any shelter away from downtown. I was here when the mission started with maybe 9 beds. It has grown tremendously through the good efforts of spiritual communities and service clubs, like the Rotary. People tend to think that the mission and other services are downtown because that's where the homeless people are. But it's the opposite. Homeless people congregated downtown in large numbers because that's where the mission and other services are. The negative impact on the city center was an unintended consequence of people trying to do the right thing.

To me, it's important to be aware of the possibility of unintended consequences and to locate the new shelter in a place that's both accessible to the homeless and unlikely to cause harm for the neighboring areas.

As a side note, I also agree that it will be a victory if the commission can meet the minimum state requirements within a year's time because it's important to hang onto that grant money and if minimum requirements are not met there are other communities clamoring for it. It was a statement about the reality of dealing with grants, not an intention to do a poor job. Everyone on the commission has an impressive resume already. No padding necessary. The members of the commission have a solid track record of getting things done and done right so that funding continues in future years. It's a lot harder to do than it looks from the outside.

Thank you to you and the others for giving your time for what may be a long, hard, thankless slog to help vulnerable people in our community. I, for one, appreciate it.

Mike

According to the article:

1. City Manager Nikki Messenger has selected the 12 homeless commission members who will hold their meetings in secret WITHOUT public participation.

2. Rep. Gary Leif’s office has already expressed concern about the inability of the public to participate in the work of the Homeless Commission or even keep abreast of its efforts. Emails already sent to the commission have not been shared with the public.

3. Shaun Pritchard, homeless commission member and also executive director of Umpqua Community Action Network made clear that a victory would be accomplished if “we can reach the minimum levels required” to secure the $1.5 million grant.

As stated, the goal of the Homeless Commission comprised of the well connected, is to do the minimum necessary to secure the $1.5 million grant (taxpayers money) and to decide in secret without public input how the money will be spent. WOW.

KC Bolton

Feeling the need to clarify since my image is so prominent when you look at the NRToday.com's variation of this article compared to the print version. Plus, the super misleading headline that a few have already click-baited instead of watching the stream of yesterday and last month's Commission meetings. For the record the print version of the article's headline is this: "Homeless Commission looks to get shelter going". That’s a big difference from the “Homeless Commission seeks public input—in private” online version.

I asked for a way to encourage the public to participate without having to have their making sausage broadcast live on FB or other medium. The fact that the article was written the way it was, and your response to cherry-picked content and quotes proves my point. The headline was chosen to clearly attract a negative response, some of the quotes not linked to what was said last month and so on. There WILL be public participation to help generate ideas for *immediate needs* (that's the name of the working group...the city wants to call it a committee but it's a roll up your sleeves task force). If convening to determine what camp needs the most handwashing points is supposed to be a "public meeting" nothing will get done because no public citizen will subject themselves to the scrutiny of rail birds like you on NRT and Facebook. The Immediate Needs effort is just that, and I've crafted the approach to be complimentary to ongoing community effort. There may be some need or opportunity to ask for some of the $1.5 million but perhaps not. The working group is a way to help while the rest of the longer work continues about permanent housing; that is a separate committee.

Email me at kbolton@aviva.health and I'll happily point you to how to attend 100% of the so-called secret meetings Mike. There is one tomorrow just before lunch of about 25 community members and agencies called HTAG. That's where I'm pitching for help to stand this effort up. HTAG has been around for several years and has been doing wonderful work, so I suspect that they will be pleased to synchronize efforts rather than have duplicative approaches.

As for the "well-connected" comment I sense a snide tone or negative implication. In what sense are you highlighting the term “well-connected” and the implications of that term? I am indeed well-connected through my agreeing to serve as the DC COVID Response Team Incident Commander when asked to make the county's plan last March. I guess I was asked since I'm a retired Army Colonel with extensive training in medical planning, albeit pandemics aren't my forte. I am “well-connected” because my organization tries to do the right thing for the community, starting with a mass vaccination event that couldn’t have been done without the support of the County Commissioners so being connected was essential. I am also "well-connected" because I've rolled up my sleeves on multiple other community projects and am consulted across a variety of areas by several agencies. If your phrase “well-connected” is synonymous with “community-focused” then I agree 100%.

Regarding Shaun's comment I agree with him; he’s correct on a solid strategy for securing those funds. One year is a very short time to pull off what has been discussed. The funds will evaporate if we don't think smartly about how to lock them in. I work in the world of grants a ton, as do all my nonprofit colleagues on the Commission. An organization often must approach the program side of grant funding in a layered fashion, jumping through the hoops to have the funds stay in play. We will need at least a Plan A and a Plan B on this project. It’s a “perfect is the enemy of good enough” scenario. A few of us believe we can have a framework, perhaps a little bit more, in place and still get the funds, but it boils down to how the state views it not us. I learn a new trick every day about optimizing public funds, so I can’t fault you for a 2-dimensional view of them. We all get annual audits by independent agencies, have IRS Form 990s filed each year on our financials, etc. Misappropriation of grant funds is a fast-track to jail time and serious fines.

I suspect what you know about the non-city staff on the Commission is from what you've read online and, in the News-Review. Since I've already demonstrated the tendency of the NR team to try to sensationalize via journalistic parlor tricks I don't need to say more to debunk your knowledge. I work with each of the Homeless Commissioners on a routine basis and with extensive hours and they are, to a tee, focused on improving our community. Those who have worked with us including several long-standing homeless support agencies are cautiously optimistic something might stick this time.

Everything I’ve shared is 100% true and verifiable. Watch the streams of the Commission meetings. Ask around about each member of the Commission and their reputation. Donate to some of the worthy homeless agencies like Dream Center, Onward Roseburg, Housing First Umpqua, Adapt, the Roseburg Rescue Mission. Apply for the Immediate Needs sub-committee (but be prepared to work, not just critique) or be on the look-out for announcements about larger volunteer groups the committee will help synchronize. https://www.cityofroseburg.org/your-government/commissions/homeless-commission. Be well, and I hope to see you join us and participate directly in this important work. KC Bolton

Mike

KC Bolton,

Thanks for the response. I hope you understand the cynicism of us rail birds who have watched multiple homeless commissions, committees, studies and work groups for years and years do NOTHING except add to their resumes. Do you blame me when I read the City Manager said commission meetings will be secret and that complaints have already been made to Rep. Leif's office about the lack of public input and transparency. You claim your meetings are open to the public. My question is are they posted so people know about them beforehand or are we to read about what happened afterwards in the NR. Are all meetings going to be streamed? Other than the group you are leading, are you saying all of the other "homeless" committee meetings are going to be open to the public or just the one you are leading? If your claims come true, us rail birds applaud you and the other well-connected for doing something transparently unusual in Douglas County. I guess we will see. Thanks again.

KC Bolton

Mike, I can't speak for the other committees and their chair's approach. But I have no issues about letting folks be engaged so long as we commit to being civil and agree to do the work and not just talk about it. Fwiw, I view my role as a liaison for resources to the existing agencies and advocate groups already in the trenches.

Nikki hasn't selected any of the committee from the public pool yet because the press release just went out, and her and I will vett the list together (she will ultimately decide though).

I'd seriously love to talk to you more about this effort and share more than I can in a comment box My post above is probably a News-Review record for length! If you are willing and available please email me at kbolton@aviva.health and I will set up the call. Or we can meet; I have my shot series but have zero issues about remaining masked if you prefer. KC

Mike

I sent you an email. You have my contact information.

GhostofTMcCall

Well said KC. Thanks for the work that you and others on this Homeless Commission are doing. They cynical, ill informed, taking pot shot "expert" commentators are the classic Monday morning arm chair quarterbacks. Mike's well connected in the comment section with other conspiracy theorists. Despite that, I applaud your willingness to speak directly to him -- its speaks to your character and integrity. Just as I applaud the frog's willingness to carry the scorpion across the river.

NJ

[thumbup] I so appreciate you giving us some insight into the commission and the enormous tasks you're willing to undertake. Transparency was so desperately needed here and I'm not proud that it seemed to take my constant damning of this commission in order for it to happen. I applaud you, you have my undying support in this complicated and worthwhile issue.

Mike

[thumbup]

NJ

Uhhh, yeah. The goal of any grant funded project would be to satisfy the demands of the grant (otherwise known as accountability). "Most commission members Monday agreed... the goal of the initial phase should be to satisfy the demands of the grant." Okay, so who are these dastardly rebels who didn't agree on accountability? I admit to giggling over the appearance that the Homeless Commission seems to be their own worst enemy or perhaps some are just there to pad their resumes in their climb for high society status. Perhaps they should just be left alone without critique, after all, they are just mere mortals. But, No.

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