Consumer Committee Minutes June 20, 2023

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Minutes of the

CONSUMERS COMMITTEE

Chairs: Charmaine Graham, Marcelo Maia

Consumer-At-Large: David Martin

Tuesday, June 20, 2023, 2:00PM – 4:00PM

Recording Of The Meeting Here

Minutes

Committee:

Asia Betancourt

Billy Fields

Charmaine Graham

David Martin

John Schoepp

Marcelo Maia Soares

Natasha Martin

Raffi Babakhanian

Reginald T. Brown

Steven Wilcox

Yves Gebhardt

Staff/Presenters/Guests:

David Klotz

Doienne Saab

Melanie Lawrence

Agenda Item 1: Welcome & Roll Call, Ice Breaker, Moment of Silence, Reminder to Review Rules for Respectful Engagement, Approval of the Minutes

Roll call conducted by Melanie Lawrence. Moment of silence led by Marcelo Maia Soares. The minutes were sent out previous to the meeting.

Agenda Item 2: Understanding HASA featuring HASA & VOCAL Board Member Reginald T. Brown

Highlights from a robust discussion with Reginald T. Brown, HASA Advisory Board Member follow:

How do you become a member of the HASA Advisory Board?

Nominated and appointed by the mayor.

Where does the HASA board sit in the staff structure?

Board reports to the director of HASA

How does the board work?

Help people to describe the issues they are experiencing to get issues addresses.

Board is currently out of compliance- has not met. Members should have term limits but do not.

HASA has contact lists for vendors, landlords etc. – but often are out of date. Best way to navigate HASA is to use community networks to leverage the voucher.

HASA apartments are supposed to be medically appropriate – often challenging to get vouchers accepted.

HASA is a referral agency – don’t actually provide housing. Gives you transportation and financial assistance, including rent support.

Referrals should be up to date and useful.

How can the Council help make HASA better?

HASA is funded 70/30 city state/funding. The board is severely out of compliance. Leadership is unresponsive to calls to get board into compliance – Vocal is pushing to get HASA there.

Finding housing is extremely stressful – couldn’t HASA have real estate agents on staff?

City Council must push for HASA to function better.

Can ask City Council members to hold a hearing.

HASA board members assist on a case-by-case basis – this is largely the approach.

HASA board member info is not publicly available.

What is purpose of advisory board? Are there by-laws?

Board has a required composition. When appointed, receive materials. But many members are over term.

HASA Desk Guide – includes several procedures that are not followed by HASA. Lack of transparency in processes. Creates issues with holding management companies accountable. When clients complained, were pushed out of the program. If there’s no one holding these companies accountable, creates a lot of issues, particularly for people who are not able to ensure apartments are compliant.

Must push HASA to do these things. Community must hold HASA’s feet to the fire.

People are recommended to City Council members, and then vetted by the city.

Meetings, when they happened, were often a collection of the issues clients were experiencing.

Lack of empathy and cultural awareness are common – VOCAL wants to place peers in these roles to improve service delivery.

HASA Working Group is by invite only but is not a closed group.

Important to raise the issue with your City Council member.

Doesn’t seem to be adequate protection for the most vulnerable members of our community. Laws already on books that should prevent clients from living in unfit conditions.

Fair housing justice centers can help hold landlords accountable.

What should committee do to move this forward – can invite Jacqueline Dudley to answer these questions – cannot bring her just to criticize. SROs can be incredibly expensive for inferior housing. Ms. Dudley cannot change policy – that’s why City Council must be held to account.

Agenda Item 3: Centering Consumers Data Request

Mr. Klotz reviewed the meeting where committee priorities were parsed.

Why was CHAIN taken out?

Array of issues were discussed including CABs, Oral Health, update on aging directive, implementing a model for consensus, underspending in Emergency Financial Assistance.

Need a plan for addressing HASA. HASA does not find you housing. Clients sometimes receive late notices – creates instability. Lack of accountability. HASA’s disfunction does not just impact housing – creates a lot of missed opportunities. HASA sometimes pays rent even after clients move out.

Difficult to transition away from benefits. Benefits are incredibly limiting – can only access some kinds of food.

HASA may be willing to collaborate to push for improved policy. Does HASA do advocacy work?

Until we understand the legal requirements of HASA – how can we hold them accountable?

HASA is city tax levy money, with some funding from HOPWA.

HASA is not responsive to clients – documents often get lost.

City would benefit from streamlining HASA processes.

SNAP was not developed to address hunger – was developed to support farmers having markets for agricultural goods.

No cash for clients – parentalism.

Can and should learn more about SNAP?

How do we push CABs forward- can we create an incentive?

Amount of time associated with issues, is an overall estimate.

Agenda Item 4: In Person Meeting

  • 33% of people in meeting are interested in meeting in person,
  • Higher % are interested in hybrid meetings.
    • Can host ½ meetings as hybrid.
  • Will host every other meeting with an in-person option in the fall.

Public Comment/Other Business

Jose has been dealing with a lot of health challenges but is currently in recovery and progressing well.

People are stigmatizing others for wearing masks.

PLANNING COUNCIL GROUND RULES FOR RESPECTFUL ENGAGEMENT

  1. Be honest and specific
  2. Focus on content rather than personalities
  3. State your views and allow others to state theirs
  4. Treat everyone with respect
  5. Wait to speak until recognized
  6. Try to identify practical solutions as well as problems
  7. Recognize that the facilitator may have to limit discussion to move the agenda—apply the “three-minute rule” to limit the length of an individual’s comments
  8. Keep focused on the goal of the Planning Council: to provide the best possible services to consumers—and put aside personal agendas
  9. Disagree without being disagreeable
  10. Be prepared to report back the topics and outcomes of the meeting, but keep the confidentiality of individual speakers
  11. Keep an open mind—make a decision only after information has been presented and discussed
  12. If you are unsure about what someone said, respectfully ask them directly
  13. If you are upset, take some time to calm down before engaging in further public discussion
  14. Both follow and help enforce these ground rules

Please note: All Council and Committee meetings are recorded and open to the public (with some exceptions).