HOUSING AND COMMUNITY
September 29, 2010
Harris Hall Main Floor
Commissioner Bill Fleenor presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Rob Handy, Joe Inman Judith Pothier and Pete Sorenson present. County Counsel Liane Richardson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
1. PUBLIC COMMENTS
2. COMMISSIONERS' RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS AND/OR OTHER ISSUES AND REMONSTRANCE
3. REGULAR BUSINESS
a. ORDER 10-9-29-1H/In the Matter of Adopting the 2010/2011 Budget and Making Appropriations.
Larry Abel, HACSA, reported that Public Housing is about half of the housing division budget or $3.5 million out of $7 million. He said the overall budget is about $1,470,000 more than last year because of the ARRA grant they received. He said they have money in both their housing division for capital funds and weatherization. He added the division budget is $368,000 more than last year because rents have increased. He said they have 60 Veterans Administration Shelter vouchers. He reported that next year Public Housing and Section 8 will be okay. He announced that their score was 97 out 100 and he was proud of the agency. He added that it ranks them in the top one percent nationwide. He reported that their financial indicator was 29.97 out of 30.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 10-9-29-1H.
Dwyer MOVED, Pothier SECONDED.
b. ORDER 10-9-29-2H/In the Matter of Approving the Public Housing Operating Budget for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2011.
Laurie Larson Lewis, HACSA reported that this is the fourth year of asset management. She stated that everything was running smoothly and all budgets are balanced.
MOTION: to approve ORDER 10-0-29-2H.
Dwyer MOVED, Pothier SECONDED.
c. REPORT BACK/Response to Public Comment.
Abel recalled that Chuck Hauk, HACSA, has dealt with Ms. Bonnie Bennett for several years. He indicated that every year they do annual certifications of income in order to adjust the tenantís rent. He said Bennett stated that they are trying to evict her and that is not true.
Hauk didnít want to get into specifics. He said that would have to be done in Executive Session. He noted that some allegations are old charges that have been investigated and he thought they were resolved. He noted that Bennett said they created a hostile environment by claiming that she had a video camera in her unit illegally filming people. He said her neighbors came to them complaining what appeared to be a doll covering a vacuum cleaner that said ďvideo camera.Ē He said the residents asked them if it was legal. He said neighbors were hanging blankets and drapes to block what was going on. He said this was a situation created by Ms. Bennett and then she turned it around to say HACSA created the situation. Hauk said Bennett filed a burglary one complaint with the Eugene Police Department saying he broke into her unit and stole files. He recalled the file was 1600 pages. He offered to make her another copy. He indicated that she has gone to the District Attorney twice because she doesnít like the fact they have redacted the files. He said by contractual obligation with the state of Oregon they are not allowed to share certain files they receive from the state and they have redacted information about neighbors complaining about her. He indicated that the District Attorney said they had the right to do that. He said they have a troubled relationship with Ms. Bennett. He added whatever they do, she is not happy with them. He offered her a transfer from Abbey Lane to one of their housing units so she would no longer have to have interaction with the property manager and Ms. Bennett didnít respond to that. He doesnít understand what she meant when she said he created a false written document provided to the District Attorney. He said they have never gone to her physician to challenge the diagnosis of her disability. He added that they donít ask for that information as it is illegal. He indicated that they have asked for confirmation if her disability required that and the medical deductions she claimed. He added that HUD has a handbook that governs the property. He stated they are specific because if the medical deductions are claimed, there has to be documentation that the travel and out of pocket costs are related to a specific medical situation. He said that Ms. Bennett is a resident in good standing, there is no action taken to evict her. He said if they file an eviction notice, she has a right to appeal in house and she could always argue it in court.
Hauk noted another situation is that she said they tried to evict her for fabricated circumstances about her dog. He said they had a resident sign a statement that Bennettís dog had run out and nipped her daughter in the foot. He added that standard procedure when that happens is to issue an eviction notice. He said they donít want that animal to bite again. He recalled what they said to her was that she didnít have to move out or get rid of the dog, he told her that she had to have the dog muzzled and on a leash any time it is outside her patio. He indicated that they offered her an informal settlement discussion that is standard procedure and she had the meeting. He explained that the purpose for an informal settlement discussion is to resolve the issues. He said at the settlement discussion they were told that she had the dog euthanized and that was the end of the issue.
Handy asked what HACSA has in place when there are complaints by the citizens and the formal mechanism.
Hauk responded that according to their grievance procedure, if HACSA makes an adverse decision, a resident has the right to request an informal settlement discussion and that was what Bennett did when she got the eviction notice about the alleged dog bite. He recalled that Bennett complained about his 15 page memo he sent to Chris Todis, HACSA, but that was his response to a five page letter of complaint from Bennett and he went through great detail about the background information and what had happened. He commented that she wasnít happy with the answer so she said it was filled with vicious lies. He said if Bennett (who has a disability) believes she has been discriminated against, she can register a complaint with an outside agency. He indicated that she went to the District Attorney twice and she was not happy with the answer she received from them. He said if a resident is not happy with his response or the Executive Director or Commissionerís response they can take it to an outside agency. He added that Bennett went to Congressman DeFazioís office. He thought in this case the resident doesnít like the answer she is getting so she is asking more people.
Handy asked if there was an official process and procedure for people to register their feedback, complaints or praise.
Hauk responded that they didnít need to formalize it because the information is given to all the residents that they can call, write, e-mail or walk in and they will take the complaint. He explained that most complaints are at a low level. He added that they are subject to scrutiny by many agencies and they have audits by HUD. He noted that Abbey Lane is reviewed on an annual basis by Oregon Housing and Community Services. He indicated that Bennett has had extensive contact with Oregon Housing and Community Services and at this point they do no longer talk with her except in writing. He commented that so far they have not been told that they have done anything wrong
Handy thought HACSA needs to track complaints and it is something they also need to do at the County. He stated there is a lack of real consistent procedure at the County for taking peopleís complaints and documenting them. He asked if there was a recommendation or a work session.
Richardson said depending upon the department or division there might be a formal way of accepting complaints or not. She thought there could be changes but there are pros and cons. She added that it might not work well if they came up with a generic way of making a complaint. She thought having some sort of complaint system that meets goals and could be tailored toward other departments would be good. She said HACSA has various ways people can make complaints. She thought what could be done is to put all of the various options on a single piece of paper that people could receive in their newsletter to remind them what happens if they have a complaint. She thought cataloging complaints could be good, but it takes staff time. She didnít know if they actually have the staff to do the work.
Dwyer thought they needed to have an independent review. He recommended that a subcommittee of the Board meet to formulate a formal policy. He said they need to do it as HACSAís Housing Policy, not for the rest of the County. He thought they should have a survey and ask people how they thought they were treated.
Abel said this is something they should stress as an agency and do more.
Dwyer said they need to have their policy in writing.
Fleenor thought this could be part of the Strategic Plan that is being worked on. He wanted to see this brought back.
Handy asked what they should do with the current situation.
Richardson said the HACSA Board could direct that there be an external investigator look into this. She said they would have to allocate the resources and she didnít know if HACSA should hire the person or HR. She said they could have a smaller group and the HACSA Board can ask to see all of the information collected to be reviewed and then decide if they want an investigator. She added the Board could say they were satisfied at this point and to move on.
There being no further business, Commissioner Fleenor adjourned the meeting at 9:55 a.m.