Stories indexed with the term ‘task force’

Task Force: Millage, Endowment for Housing

An ambitious plan to help the homeless – by creating 500 or more units of housing with support services, paid for through a millage and endowment fund – was presented to Washtenaw County commissioners at their May 22 working session.

Bob Guenzel, Mary Jo Callan, Norm Herbert, Washtenaw County, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Former Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel and Mary Jo Callan, director of the county’s office community & economic development, talk with former University of Michigan treasurer Norm Herbert before the start of the May 22, 2014 county board working session. Guenzel and Herbert are members of a task force on supportive housing. (Photos by the writer.)

The leadership team of the Task Force on Sustainable Revenues for Supportive Housing Services briefed commissioners on their recommendations, including the goal of building a $50 million endowment over 20 years. Payouts from the endowment would fund supportive services – such as treatment for mental illness and substance abuse – with the intent of addressing the root causes of homelessness. The concept is called permanent supportive housing, and is part of the community’s broader Blueprint to End Homelessness, which was created in 2004 and is being updated.

A possible millage – recommended at 0.25 mills, for no more than 20 years – would help fund supportive services while the endowment is built. County commissioners are being asked to consider putting such a millage on the ballot, possibly in 2015.

Former county administrator Bob Guenzel, a task force member, told commissioners that the task force believes this approach “is absolutely the right thing to do, to end homelessness and keep people housed. We feel very strongly about that. It’s a moral issue.” There’s also a strong business case for this approach when looking at the cost of emergency services and the criminal justice system, compared to the cost of permanent supportive housing, he said.

Several steps have already been taken to achieve these goals. An endowment was established in 2011, with $2.1 million in commitments so far. That amount includes a $1 million gift from the St. Joseph Mercy Health System to create the endowment, which is called the Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund for Supportive Services for Housing. Gellise is the former CEO of St. Joe’s. She’s on the task force and is a founding board member of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance. Another $1 million commitment comes from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF), where the endowment is housed. AAACF Cheryl Elliott is another task force member. In addition, an anonymous donor has contributed $100,000.

The first fund distribution – of $26,100 – will be made this fall in a competitive grant process. AAACF’s distribution committee – an all-volunteer group – will be responsible for making grant recommendations.

AAACF is also helping provide a three-year, part-time development job to support fundraising for this endowment. Funding for the position will come from the Washtenaw Housing Alliance ($25,000), the AAACF ($5,000) and an anonymous donor ($10,000).

The foundation will post this position in early June, Elliott reported, with the intent of making a hire as soon as possible. The position would be in place until at least mid-2017. The employee will report to AAACF’s vice president for development and donor services, and to the Sister Yvonne Gellise Fund development committee. Members of that committee are the same people who’ve served on the leadership team of the task force, Elliott said. In addition to herself, members are Bob Chapman, Sister Yvonne Gellise, Bob Guenzel, Norm Herbert and Dave Lutton. They hope to get an additional two or three members, she said.

The next steps in this process include a request to the county board to sunset the task force at the June 4 board meeting. The board will also be asked to consider the task force’s recommendation for a millage. “Please use this year and into 2015 to set a millage strategy,” Elliott said.

The task force also stressed the importance of a public outreach and education effort, to help build awareness and support for the endowment.

The task force presentation was attended by five of the county’s nine commissioners. During their discussion, Conan Smith (D-District 9) expressed interest in having the county bond for this initiative – either for the full $50 million, or some portion of that amount. The county now has a triple-A bond rating, Smith noted. [That news had been announced earlier in the day. In general, higher ratings allow organizations to secure better terms for borrowing funds.] “This gives us an opportunity… to actually have some real impact in the community,” Smith said.

Task force members indicated that they hadn’t considered the option of bonding, and Elliott had some concerns about whether it would be legal to use taxpayer dollars for an endowment. They plan to explore the possibility, including consultation with legal counsel. [Full Story]

Pedestrian Task Force Funding Delayed

A proposal to appropriate $197,250 to fund the work of a pedestrian safety and access task force has been postponed by the Ann Arbor city council. Action to postpone the resolution until April 7 came at the council’s March 3, 2014 meeting.

In the meantime, the task force will likely be meeting before the resolution comes back to the council. Indications at the March 3 meeting were that the budget for the task force and the scope of work for staff and consultant support could change considerably.

The total amount proposed to be appropriated for the task force project budget is $197,250. That amount includes an “estimated $122,500” as the approximate cost of the anticipated city staff effort for the project. The total project … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor to Get Pedestrian Safety Task Force

A nine-person pedestrian safety task force has been established by the Ann Arbor city council, with a charge of delivering a report with recommendations by February 2015. Action came at the council’s Nov. 18, 2013 meeting with a unanimous vote that occurred after 1 a.m.

The item had been postponed from the council’s Nov. 7 meeting amid concerns about the funding needed to support the task force’s work. Public services area administrator Craig Hupy had described the staff and other support for the task force as costing on the order of $100,000, depending on the level of support and activities required. [.pdf of Nov. 7 memo on pedestrian safety]

At the Nov. 18 meeting, a substitute resolution was put forward by … [Full Story]

Council Delays on Ped Safety Task Force

A resolution that would establish a pedestrian safety task force has been postponed by the Ann Arbor city council in action taken on Nov. 7, 2013. The council will take up the issue again at its Nov. 18 meeting.

Leading to the decision to postpone were concerns about the budget that would need to be approved in order to provide the necessary staff support for the task force. The vote to postpone was unanimous.

The pedestrian safety and access task force would consist of nine residents, including “representatives from organizations that address the needs of school-aged youth, senior citizens, pedestrian safety, and people with mobility impairments.” Applications from interested citizens should be turned in to the mayor’s office by Nov. 22, 2013. … [Full Story]

North Main Task Force Gets New Member

A task force that’s looking at future planning for the North Main Street and Huron River corridor has been expanded so that it eventually can include outgoing councilmember Sandi Smith (Ward 1). She was appointed to represent the council on the group, but did not seek re-election to her council seat. The vote to expand the task force came at the council’s Nov. 8, 2012 meeting. Smith was also nominated and confirmed in a one-step process serve as an additional citizen member.

Mayor John Hieftje had indicated at the council’s Oct. 15, 2012 meeting that he would be moving to expand the task force in this way. The resolution was sponsored by Smith’s Ward 1 cohort, Sabra Briere. At the meeting, Briere … [Full Story]

Brown Recommended for N. Main Group

At its May 23, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor public art commission (AAPAC) unanimously recommended that Connie Rizzolo Brown be nominated for a position on a task force to study the corridor along North Main Street and the Huron River. That recommendation will be forwarded to mayor John Hieftje.

The task force was established by the city council at its May 7, 2012 meeting, with membership to include the following: one member of the park advisory commission, one member of the planning commission, one resident representing the Water Hill neighborhood, one resident representing the North Central neighborhood, one resident from the Old Fourth Ward, one resident representing the Broadway/Pontiac neighborhood, two business and property owners from the affected area, and one member of … [Full Story]

Positions Added to North Main Task Force

At its May 21, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council added four positions to a task force to study the corridor along North Main Street and the Huron River – a member of the city council, someone from the boating/fishing community of river users, a representative from the Huron River Citizens Association, and a member of the Ann Arbor public art commission (AAPAC).

The member from AAPAC was added by a 6-5 vote that amended the original resolution. Voting for the additional member were Tony Derezinski (Ward 2), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Margie Teall (Ward 4), Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5), Mike Anglin (Ward 5), and mayor John Hiefjte.

When the task force was established at the council’s May 7, 2012 meeting, … [Full Story]

North Main & River Task Force Created

At its May 7, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council passed a resolution establishing a task force to study the corridor along North Main Street and the Huron River.

The creation of the task force comes in the context of the city’s application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funds to demolish two former maintenance yard buildings on the city-owned 721 N. Main parcel. The application has been approved by FEMA, but is pending the update of the city’s All-Hazard plan, which had expired and is being updated. FEMA is willing to help fund the demolition, because the two buildings are located in the floodway. The city council’s eventual acceptance of the FEMA grant will require a deed … [Full Story]

AATA Receives Financial Group Report

At its April 19, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board formally accepted for further consideration the recommendations of a financial task force on funding for an expanded, countywide governance and service area.

The task force is currently “on hold” following its Feb. 29, 2012 meeting, when it made its recommendations to the AATA. A few days after that task force meeting, the Ann Arbor city council ratified its part of a four-party agreement – between the AATA, city of Ann Arbor, city of Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County – that provides a framework for possible transition to a new governance structure for the AATA.

The April 19 board resolution addresses part of the reason that the task force was reluctant … [Full Story]

Panhandling Law Tweak Gets Initial OK

At its April 4, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave its initial approval to a revision to the city’s code on disorderly conduct – the part dealing with solicitation, which is more commonly known as panhandling. To be enacted, the ordinance revision will need a second vote by the council and a public hearing.

The revised ordinance prohibits panhandling in one generally-defined additional location (in or within 12 feet of a public alley) and one specific location (within 12 feet of the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library.) [.pdf of revisions to existing ordinance as they were drafted at the start of the April 4, 2011 meeting]

The proposal to revise the law grew out of a street outreach task force, which was appointed at the council’s Sept. 20, 2010 meeting and charged with developing cost-effective recommendations for addressing the issue of downtown panhandling and the needs of those who panhandle. [Previous Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Task Force Consults Panhandlers"]

At the council’s March 21, 2011 meeting, the council received a report from two members of the task force – Maggie Ladd, executive director of the South University Area Association, and Charles Coleman, a project coordinator with Dawn Farm. A recommendation contained in the report included revising the city’s ordinance on solicitation to prohibit panhandling in additional locations. [.pdf of street outreach task force report]

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 100 N. Fifth Ave. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

Street Task Force: “Have a Heart, Give Smart”

At its March 21, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council heard a presentation from its street outreach task force, which the council appointed at its Sept. 20, 2010 meeting and charged with developing cost effective recommendations for addressing the issue of downtown panhandling and the needs of those who panhandle. [Previous Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Task Force Consults Panhandlers"]

Highlights of the report include recommendations that: (1) the city council revise the city’s ordinance on solicitation to prohibit panhandling in additional locations; (2) the police chief increase police attention downtown during the busiest hours of the week; (3) the city’s community standards division increase their interaction with the public; and (4) the mayor’s downtown marketing task force take an expanded role working with residents, merchants and service providers.

The task force report describes an educational campaign to advise downtown visitors and University of Michigan students about options they have besides giving money to panhandlers, a campaign with the slogan “Have a Heart, Give Smart.” [.pdf of street outreach task force report]

This brief was filed from the boardroom in the Washtenaw County administration building, where the council is meeting due to renovations in the city hall building. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Task Force Consults Panhandlers

Editor’s note: At its Sept. 20, 2010 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council reappointed a downtown street outreach task force – aka the “panhandling task force” – which had existed in the early 2000s. The current group’s charge is to work for no longer than six months to identify cost-effective ways to achieve better enforcement of the city’s ordinance against panhandling, and to provide help to panhandlers who are addicted to drugs.

The sum of one panhandler's afternoon collection on Dec. 31, 2010 on the sidewalk next to Border's Bookstore on East Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor. (Photo by Dave Askins.)

Now that the task force is roughly halfway through that six-month period, The Chronicle attended its December meeting to check in on the group’s work.

You buy local, think global, pay it forward, recycle. You’re a good person.

So how do you respond to a panhandler? Is opening your wallet helping someone in need? Or is it enabling an addiction? Can you look the other way and still consider yourself compassionate?

At the Dec. 15 meeting of the city’s panhandling task force, three paid consultants gave their perspective on the issue – as panhandlers. Geoffrey Scott said he enjoys talking to the people almost as much as he appreciates the money they give him.

But one member of the city’s panhandling task force says people don’t realize the damage they do in the name of kindness. [Full Story]