The Dalles City Council holds emergency session Wednesday, Oct 28 at noon

On Monday, October 26, The Dalles City Council met in a work session which included representatives of the Wasco County Commissioners and the board of Center for Living. The topic was on the lack of facilities to treat local mental illness, which often leads to violence. Homelessness often contributes to both those problems, and due to the pandemic, local nonprofits will not be able to operate the warming shelter during cold weather. With freezing temperatures already here, city council members agreed Monday to hold an emergency session on Wednesday at noon to pass a resolution granting the city manager the power to work with other agencies to establish temporary shelters on city property.

COMMENT: The proposed ordinance below is one of the best-written this news department has seen in a long time, and lays out the situation and solution in as clear and thoughtful manner as we have seen in. long time. Its drafters are to be congratulated.

EMERGENCY RESOLUTION NO. 20-025

A RESOLUTION RELATING TO THE HOMELESSNESS PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS AND DIRECTING THE CITY MANAGER TO WORK COLLABORATIVELY WITH ANY NECESSARY PARTIES TOWARDS PROVIDING TEMPORARY SHELTER FOR THE CITY’S HOMELESS POPULATION

WHEREAS, ORS 401.025(3) defines “emergency services” as activities engaged in by local government agencies to prepare for an emergency and to prevent, minimize, respond to, or recover from an emergency, including but not limited to coordination, preparedness planning, interagency liaison, law enforcement, medical, health and sanitation services; and

WHEREAS, ORS 401.025(3) defines “emergency services” as activities engaged in by local government agencies to prepare for an emergency and to prevent, minimize, respond to, or recover from an emergency, including but not limited to coordination, preparedness planning, interagency liaison, law enforcement, medical, health and sanitation services; and

 WHEREAS, ORS 401.305 provides authority for the City of The Dalles to act as an emergency management agency, including authority to appoint an emergency program manager who is responsible for the organization, administration, and operation of the emergency program, and establish policies and protocols for defining and directing responsibilities during the time of emergency; and

WHEREAS, ORS 401.305 provides authority for the City of The Dalles to act as an emergency management agency, including authority to appoint an emergency program manager who is responsible for the organization, administration, and operation of the emergency program, and establish policies and protocols for defining and directing responsibilities during the time of emergency; and

WHEREAS, the City of The Dalles continues to experience large numbers of individuals and families who are homeless due to job loss, family crisis, substance abuse, economic reasons, mental health issues, loss of temporary housing, and other reasons; andWHEREAS, the pattern of stagnant and declining wages and shortage of available affordable housing has contributed to the rising numbers of homeless individuals and families across the United States generally and the State of Oregon particularly; and

WHEREAS, higher rates of unsheltered homelessness on the west coast of the United States can be attributed to lack of shelter capacity, rising costs of rental housing, stagnant incomes for low- wage workers, and a decline in federal support for affordable housing; and

WHEREAS, Oregon has the highest rate of unsheltered family homelessness in the nation; and

WHEREAS, more than 64 percent of people experiencing homelessness in Oregon are unsheltered; and

WHEREAS, the homelessness crisis is occurring in communities throughout Oregon, causing cities like Portland to declare states of emergency in order to provide emergency services and shelters for the growing number of unsheltered homeless individuals and families; and

WHEREAS, the City of The Dalles continues to experience large numbers of individuals and families who are homeless due to job loss, family crisis, substance abuse, economic reasons, mental health issues, loss of temporary housing, and other reasons; and

WHEREAS, the City of The Dalles has no permanent shelter for its homeless population; and

WHEREAS, the City of The Dalles regularly experiences severe weather each and every winter season, including thunder and rainstorms, snow, ice, extreme winds, and freezing and 

WHEREAS, according to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, persons “. . . experiencing homelessness are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than their housed counterparts, and experience an average life expectancy as low as 41 years . . .”; and below- freezing temperatures; and

WHEREAS, exposure to severe weather has killed several homeless individuals living outdoors in the City of The Dalles during previous winter seasons, and has exacerbated comorbid illnesses in countless others of its homeless population, including frostbite and amputations resulting from frostbite; and

WHEREAS, since the City of The Dalles has inadequate shelter to meet the demand of its homeless population, discrete homeless encampments occur; and

WHEREAS, residents of homeless encampments have needs including the provision of social, public, and mental health services, shelter from severe weather, stability, storage and safety, potable drinking water, solid waste disposal, and human waste disposal; and

 WHEREAS, conditions in homeless encampments threatening public health include: garbage becoming a food source for vermin; vectors (disease-transmitting organisms or parasites) and related pathogens; lack of proper food storage and clean dishes accelerating the spread of food- borne disease; lack of sanitary facilities to dispose of human and animal fecal waste contaminating ground and surface water supplies and contributing to disease transmission; improper disposal of discarded medical and sharps waste; accumulation of combustible materials with a potential for accidental ignition; lack of adequate hygiene contributing to dental and skin problems; and the victimization of homeless persons by both sheltered and non-sheltered persons; and

WHEREAS, conditions in homeless encampments are acutely stressful and expose occupants to communicable diseases like the novel coronavirus, tuberculosis, and contagious respiratory illnesses, violence, and malnutrition; and

 WHEREAS, these conditions arise from human-made events and threaten, and will continue to threaten, widespread loss of life, injury to person and property, human suffering, and financial loss; and

 WHEREAS, many of these conditions can be mitigated through emergency temporary shelter designed to meet the immediate survival and safety needs of those persons occupying homeless encampments, such as the provision of hygiene facilities, trash collection, sanitary facilities, and protection from severe weather; and

WHEREAS, temporary shelter alleviates the acute trauma of unsheltered homelessness; and

 WHEREAS, urgent and emergency measures are warranted to address this public health crisis; and

 WHEREAS, the City Council finds its exercising of its police power authority to declare a homelessness public health crisis and temporary shelter emergency and to authorize an emergency temporary shelter program to address basic humanitarian needs throughout this winter season is in the best interest of the public health, safety, and welfare.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL AS FOLLOWS:

1. A local State of Emergency is declared to exist throughout the City of The Dalles with  respect to the homelessness public health crisis and temporary shelter emergency.

2. This Declaration of a State of Emergency is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until April 1, 2021.

3. The City Council appoints the City Manager as the emergency program manager to address the homelessness public health crisis and temporary shelter emergency.

4. The City Council authorizes the City Manager to coordinate emergency services by working collaboratively with any necessary parties towards providing temporary shelter for the City of The Dalles’ homeless population.

a. “Necessary parties” include, but are not limited to, community partners, stakeholders, landowners, other government entities, nonprofit and for-profit organizations involved in homelessness services, and all other parties required to facilitate the City Manager’s coordination of emergency services.

b. “Providing temporary shelter” includes, but is not limited to, acquiring temporary shelter, securing a site to place temporary shelter, coordinating or retaining an operator to coordinate the day-to-day operation of and management over temporary shelter, and provisioning or retaining a provider to deliver any services incidental to temporary shelter.

c. The “City of The Dalles’ homeless population” means home-insecure or unsheltered individuals and families located within the city limits of the City of The Dalles.

d. “Temporary shelter” means a building providing shelter on a temporary basis for individuals and families who lack permanent housing. Such a building, or site where such a building or buildings may be placed, must:

i. Include sleeping and restroom facilities for clients;

ii. Comply with applicable building codes;

iii. Be located inside the city limits of the City of The Dalles;

iv. Not result in the development of a new building that is sited within an area designated under a statewide land use planning goal relating to natural disasters and hazards, including floodplains or mapped environmental health hazards, unless the development complies with regulations directly related to the hazard;

v. Have adequate transportation access to commercial and medical services; and

vi. Not pose any unreasonable risk to public health or safety.

5. Any temporary shelter provided under this Emergency Resolution must be operated by:

a. The City of The Dalles;

b. A local government as defined in ORS 174.116;

c. An organization with at least two years’ experience operating an emergency shelter using best practices that is:

i. A local housing authority as defined in ORS 456.375;

ii. A religious corporation as defined in ORS 65.001; or

iii. A public benefit corporation, as defined in ORS 65.001, whose charitable purpose includes the support of homeless individuals and that has been recognized as exempt from income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code on or before January 1, 2017; or

d. A nonprofit corporation partnering with any other entity described in this section.

6. Any temporary shelter provided under this Emergency Resolution:

a. May provide on-site for its clients and at no cost to the clients:

i. Showering or bathing;

ii. Storage for personal property;

iii. Laundry facilities;

iv. Service of food prepared on-site or off-site;

vi. Case management services for housing, financial, vocational, educational, physical, or behavioral health care services; or

vii. Any other services incidental to shelter.

b. May include youth shelters, veterans’ shelters, winter or warming shelters, day shelters, and family violence shelter homes as defined in ORS 409.290.

7. The approval of a temporary shelter under this Emergency Resolution is not a land use decision and is subject to review only under ORS 34.010 to 34.100.

PASSED AND ADOPTED ON THIS 28 THDAY OF OCTOBER, 2020.

Voting Yes, Councilors: ________________________________________________ Voting No, Councilors: ________________________________________________ Abstaining, Councilors: ________________________________________________ Absent, Councilors: ________________________________________________

AND APPROVED BY THE MAYOR THIS 28TH DAY OF OCTOBER, 2020.

__________________________________ Richard A. Mays, Mayor