Homelessness, psychological well being high residents’ want checklist for find out how to spend COVID-19 reduction cash – The Durango Herald

La Plata County is in no rush to determine how close to $ 11 million can be spent

Micah currently lives on the streets of Durango, where he moved from northern Minnesota three years ago. He said Durango could be the best or the worst, depending on a person’s mindset. He recently took a job as a dishwasher at Steamworks Brewing Co. and said a change in the way he thinks and attitudes has benefited his situation. (Christian Burney / Durango Herald)

When asked how La Plata County should spend nearly $ 11 million in COVID-19 relief funds, two common themes were raised by community members who focused on homelessness and mental health programs.

La Plata County has until 2024 to distribute the federal money made available through the American Rescue Plan Act. On Wednesday, the district administrators set out the guidelines for the money and heard from the public how the money should be spent.

A mix of county residents and community leaders attended the virtual meeting hosted on Zoom, which was recorded and made available online.

Several local residents were interested in using the money to help the homeless population of La Plata County. Community Compassion Outreach’s Donna Mae Baukat wanted to know how quickly funds would be allocated after district officials decided how to distribute it.

Community Compassion Outreach has initiated an application process for funding with the Department of Housing, Baukat said. She expects to know if the application will be accepted approximately 65 days after submitting it.

“So the question is, after the Commissioner has examined all the proposals, how soon, shall we say, our project – if we were to state on an input form that we want federal funding for affordable housing – how soon after your decision? will there be funding and how quickly can we know whether we are eligible or not? ”said Baukat.

About half of the total funding, $ 5.4 million, is already available, said county manager Chuck Stevens, but district officials are in no hurry to spend it and intend to take a methodical, measured approach to decide how the money is distributed.

“Every tip I’ve got from the board is that they want to be very thorough and considered,” said Stevens. “They want to get ideas from the community, they want to be very thoughtful. You don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. It’s a really mushy answer for you, I get that. I would just say submit your project and recommendation. “

Homelessness was a key issue local residents wanted to address at a county virtual meeting on Wednesday to collect suggestions on how to spend nearly $ 11 million in federal COVID-19 aid. Manna, a soup kitchen on Avenida del Sol 1100, started with its own garden in 2004. The facility provides nutritious meals and support services to those in need, and distributes groceries from 9 am to 11 am daily. (Christian Burney / Durango Herald)

Stevens added that the commissioners and the county government will hold a working meeting towards the end of September to formally consider proposals from the public.

Harrison Wendt, a Durango resident and youth mental health advocate, also asked about the process of helping young homeless populations.

“I see it more and more worrying when our young people become homeless and live on the streets,” said Wendt. “College students who don’t have an apartment live in their cars.”

Wendt wondered how best to call for resources: should local organizations make separate requests, or would it be more effective if they banded together as a coalition to come up with one big proposal?

Stevens and District Spokesman Ted Holteen both responded that a coalition would be more effective and increase their chances of successfully distributing money where it would best serve the homeless populations of Durango and La Plata.

“Coalitions are always great,” said Holteen. “If you are like-minded people trying to express a similar problem when you can achieve this type of organization, it is certainly better to submit one form from one group than submit four forms from different people.”

Wendt also asked if mental health was an area of ​​support. He was concerned that mental health was a wide-ranging issue that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic and that it could be excluded from federal aid.

Stevens assured Wendt that mental health was eligible. He added that homelessness issues, which district officials hear about three to four times a week, are of interest to the committee.

“Mental health problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic, I think that is out of the question,” said Stevens. “I think we can conclusively prove that. So that would definitely be a qualified issue. How can we take this into account and ensure that we survive the audit? That would be for the county, but I’m confident this would be a qualified, eligible expense. “

Kristine Melrose, of rural La Plata County, raised concerns about drug use across the county, saying overdoses and a link to street drugs need to be addressed.

“I’ve been in this county all my life, several generations in this county,” said Melrose. “I’ve attended many, many funerals for people who overdosed in our county. I think this should definitely be addressed with the street drugs that are available to people. And especially for the homeless who come to our country, I feel that it’s not just about mental health, but also about the drugs that are available. I know that ultimately it is their decision to take and ingest or whatever they do, but it is still readily available and that should definitely be addressed, it shouldn’t just be an offense. “

Stevens said he believes the board wholeheartedly approves of Melrose.

The county has until 2026 to spend the money it received through the American bailout plan. Holteen said Wednesday that the board intends to allocate the money to generational projects that will have a far-reaching and lasting impact on as many of the county’s residents as possible.

The residents can submit comments, ideas and suggestions to the municipal council for consideration Online formprovided during the virtual meeting and available on the county website.

cburney@durangoherald.com

Darkish cash group launches marketing campaign to push Portland-area leaders for outcomes on police reforms, homelessness, cleanup efforts

A new anonymously funded political group launched a campaign on Friday to encourage elected leaders in the Portland area to move faster and better coordinate to address challenges viewed by unnamed donors as the greatest challenges in the city.

Many of the things they want to do, from creating safe homes for people on the streets to reducing gun violence, are in great demand with voters and officials from across the political spectrum. But they do not have easy solutions and there is no broad consensus on which steps to take in the right direction.

The dark money charity People for Portland began broadcasting television spots Friday urging officials at all levels of government to “end the humanitarian crisis on our streets, reform the police force, restore public safety and cleanse our once beautiful city “.

“Portland is still full of potential, but the politicians are doing too little, too slowly, to save our broken city,” says a woman in the TV ad as black and white pictures of tent camps, graffiti and headlines about murders pass by.

“Let’s tell the politicians to do their job to save the city we love,” concludes the ad, suggesting that people go to the group’s website and sign up for unspecified future political activity.

With the group’s funders remaining largely anonymous, the two longtime political advisors who lead the campaign have a more public role in the appeal. Dan Lavey, who has worked for independents and Republicans like Chris Dudley, and Kevin Looper, who has worked for progressive causes and Democratic candidates like Governor Kate Brown, are partners in this effort.

Under state and federal campaign funding rules, it is legal for the group’s donors to remain anonymous under their establishment as a political nonprofit.

Looper said in an interview on Friday that the central problem Portland is facing is “the lack of courage among elected officials … which makes them more afraid to do wrong than to do something”.

The campaign targets every elected official with ties to the Portland area, including city officials, district officials, metro regional government councilors, the sheriff and district attorney, state lawmakers, and the Portland-home governor who is also from Portland. Through digital and television advertising, the total cost of which they rejected, Lavey and Looper plan to urge local voters to contact their elected leaders and urge them to take action on People for Portland’s priorities.

“We need to get the public more involved so … elected officials at all levels feel the heat of the people they represent,” Lavey said.

Local leaders, particularly on the Portland City Council, are already working to resolve most of the problems that People for Portland lament. But the group says they want them to get results faster.

That includes making body-worn cameras mandatory for the Portland Police Department, which the U.S. Department of Justice asked the city to enforce July. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler directed the police bureau this month to prepare for body-worn cameras, including researching various camera systems and getting bids. OPB reported. Long a vocal opponent of body-worn devices, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said she was learning how to use the technology successfully in other cities, OPB said.

People for Portland urged the city to request the body-worn cameras in a comment sent to The Oregonian / OregonLive and made separately available to the newsroom on Friday.

The city commissioners are already in the process of defining six locations where it will be built Protected Villages with showers, toilets, laundry service, psychiatric care and case managers. The move is tied to the latest from the city council politics in the evacuation of camps, which lowered the bar for the removal of “high impact” camps, in part because of the idea that people could move to the city-sanctioned villages.

The city and other regional and state government agencies also began concerted efforts to accelerate garbage collection and landfill cleaning in the Portland area after service cuts and lack of coordination resulted in solid waste accumulations around the city during the last year. However, the group says governments have more to do and “professional sanitation is an expected basic function of government”.

In addition, People for Portland wants Multnomah County’s District Attorney Mike Schmidt and other prosecutors to “prosecute those involved in violence and vandalism” during demonstrations, according to a form letter posted on the group’s website. Schmidt has obtained guilty pleadings and multi-year prison sentences for several people charged with arson, window smashing and other vandalism in connection with nighttime protests in downtown and other parts of the city.

People for Portland Cities Survey paid for by FM3 Research as proof that many Portlanders agree with its priorities and want local executives to deliver faster results. According to the group, a poll of more than 800 likely voters conducted more than three months ago showed that 84% of respondents agreed that tent camps are a “humanitarian emergency” that requires more urgent action from city and county officials, and 85% supported it Redirecting existing taxpayers’ money to create “50 Safe Sanitary Villages” for the homeless across the city. When it comes to public safety, the group cites survey results that found 62% of respondents said the Portland police force could be reformed, 91% supported police body cameras, and 49% believed the city had too few police officers. 84 percent of respondents agreed that law enforcement agencies “should aggressively pursue the small number of people who use protests to cover for property damage and violence”.

Finally, People for Portland asked if Portland voters would stand against the city and county incumbents in the next election if things didn’t get better. Almost nine out of ten eligible voters surveyed said they did.

A poll of 300 Portland residents conducted by Portland firm DHM Research for The Oregonian / OregonLive over a very similar period April 30 through May 6 found that 42% said the city should hire more police officers . Most of the city dwellers surveyed said the police presence should remain unchanged (30%) or decrease (24%).

Lavey and Looper repeatedly pointed out a short timeframe – Looper suggested two years – in which elected leaders need to make significant improvements to prevent Portland from becoming a “lost city” in which a critical mass of people have decided not to renew commercial leases and stop supporting elements of a vibrant city like art.

Andrew Hoan, CEO and President of the Portland Business Alliance, did not immediately respond to a call Friday afternoon asking whether the group supports the People for Portland campaign.

However, two well-known business owners expressed their support. Businessman and philanthropist Jordan Schnitzer, whose commercial real estate company owns Portland real estate, said he had “been approached about funding,” met with the group, and believed the campaign had “some good goals.”

“I support anything that helps Portland get back on track,” said Schnitzer, who refused to say whether he made a donation to People for Portland.

Tim Boyle, President and CEO of Columbia Sportswear Company, was open about his support for the group in an interview Friday. “I contributed some money to surveys to validate what everyone in town thought was right,” said Boyle. “The city is close to my heart, I grew up here.”

“Every elected official in the state of Oregon, especially the senior official, is all complicit in the problem we have in Portland today,” Boyle said. “Half of them live in Portland, the other half visit Portland, and it’s a shame they don’t actively move forward on all the issues that are clearly visible to everyone.”

Boyle said some Columbia Sportswear Company employees cited problems in the city as the reason they were leaving, and some potential hires turned down jobs they should have worked in the city.

“I’m more than happy to talk about this out loud and put my name on my loudness,” said Boyle. “I’m not a black money person.”

– Hillary Borrud

hborrud@oregonian.com; @hborrud

Readers reply: Struggle homelessness, poverty with cash

When you look around Portland, there are signs of abandonment everywhere affected by poverty, disease and homelessness. It’s not a new topic, and it’s not strictly limited to that particular Oregon subway area, but it does seem to get a lot of talk and little movement. Rising crime, addiction, graffiti and tents lining every inch of concrete are not signs of a thriving city. It is not a problem that we should ignore as a society; it requires sympathy and legislation. Housing, infrastructure, jobs and rehabilitation need innovative improvements to help people living in poverty and homelessness. Just spend the money on it. It may be an over-simplification of what is required, but money is the greatest contributor to policy and problem-solving. So just do it as Oregon’s most famous native son might say.

The current poverty we see in our city should inspire not only our domestic but also our foreign agenda. In Oregon we have a Senator, Jeff Merkley, who sits on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit developing countries hard: children forced out of school, people are losing their jobs, and hunger is rising. These problems can be resolved and will help America stabilize nations and open up new economic markets. Less than 1% of our budget is spent on development aid. We should all email our senators to increase the budget for international affairs. Spend the money back.

Ryan Ratzlaff, Portland

Native ministry raised cash to fight homelessness and meals insecurity

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) – A local government department raised funds through a community challenge in May to help tackle homelessness and food insecurity in Bloomington.

A group of donors raised $ 40,000 and asked community members to add to their contributions.

Home Sweet Home Ministries, a nonprofit, non-denominational Christian organization, ended up raising a total of $ 99,013.

Matt Burgess, chief executive officer of Home Sweet Home Ministries, said he appreciates the support of all who have an impact on the people they serve.

“Our generous donors have ensured that Home Sweet Home Ministries can continue to run
Providing basic services to people affected by homelessness and food insecurity in our community.
Thank you for giving hope to those in need, ”said Burgess.