Salem council to review spending on homeless services, more on Monday

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Salem City Council will vote Monday on whether to pass a spending plan for homeless services that prioritizes funding for current programs while withholding funding for new programs until additional income is secured.

City staff warned that without additional funding, Salem cannot provide any new homelessness assistance and may have to cut the services it currently provides.

The Council allocated $23.3 million in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 to address homelessness in the city.

Funds were directed to a variety of hosting services, including:

  • Acquisition/construction/architectural design of the Navigation Centre: $3.27 million.
  • Microshelter village start-up and operating costs: $7.78 million.
  • Safe park services: $480,000.
  • Housing and Rent Assistance Program: $1.74 million.
  • Salem Warming/Adverse Weather Network: $300,000.
  • Non-collective accommodation (hotel rooms): $172,830.

The funds were also used to address health, safety and habitability issues that involved:

  • Towing: $428,000.
  • Vehicle repair: $10,000.
  • Cleaning supplies: $5,000.
  • Biohazard and environmental cleanup: $320,000.
  • Salem Outreach Habitability Services Team: $1.13 million.

The 2022 point-in-time count identified 1,566 people living either homeless or in shelters in Salem, a 15% increase from previous counts.

After:Annual tally points to spike in homelessness in Middle Valley

City officials said spending in the past year saw 479 people served in the micro-shelter villages, more than 100 people accessed park security services overnight, 380 people have been housed under the housing and rental assistance program since its launch in 2017, 4,943 cubic meters — equivalent to 412 12-yard dump truck loads — of trash removed, and 443 campsites contacted by a city team.

In a report, city staff said that without new revenue, programs that received one-time funding through state or federal grants would be forced to end.

“Based on the spending plan, one-time revenues will be largely exhausted by the end of FY24 and sheltering and many services will not be funded from FY25” , the staff said in the report.

Staff recommended against funding new or improved activities or services until additional funding has been identified and secured.

“Council leadership is needed on how to allocate remaining homelessness services dollars to inform the FY24 budget process,” staff said. “Not all current programs and services can be funded with the remaining dollars.”

Ongoing operational programs launched with one-time funds that could cease without additional funding include:

  • Navigation Center Operations (planned to open this winter)
  • Micro-shelter village operations
  • Secure Park Services
  • Salem Warming/Inclement Weather Network has expanded its investment
  • Towing
  • Biohazard and Environmental Cleanup
  • Salem Outreach Habitability Services Team.

To avoid closing programs before new funds are identified, prioritization of current available one-time revenues is necessary, staff said. They warned that the creation of new projects would accelerate the potential timeline for closing current programs.

The report recommended that council adopt a spending plan to prioritize existing programs.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • Public hearing on the annexation of territory at 4650 and 4680 Hazelgreen Road NE and adjacent lands.
  • Agreement with Marion County for street and utility improvements in Loan Oak Road SE south of Sahalee Drive SE.
  • Department of Conservation and Land Development agreement for Salem Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Pass resolutions to rezone properties on Commercial Street SE between Superior and McGilchrist to mixed use to allow for pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development.
  • An information report on the Salem Climate Action Plan and a recommendation of early priorities for implementation.
  • An update on the city’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan, which is being updated to change speed bump requirements, a 20-is-Plenty program, and stop programs of area.

Explanation: What are the rules for public meetings and public comment in Oregon?

The meeting is at 6 p.m. It is virtual and can be viewed on Comcast Cable CCTV Channel 21 or on Salem’s YouTube channel in English/American Sign Language and Spanish.

Written public comments on agenda items may be emailed by 5:00 p.m. Monday through [email protected]. Or pre-register between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through cityofsalem.net/Pages/Public-Comment-at-Salem-City-Council-Meeting.aspx speak in the meeting via Zoom.

For questions, comments and topical advice, email reporter Whitney Woodworth at [email protected]call 503-910-6616 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth

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