The Salem City Council approved a wastewater project on Northeast Silverton Road and changes to the city’s five-year housing plan during a brief meeting the evening of Monday, Sept. 11.
Councilors also heard an update about the human rights commission’s survey which found that most homeless respondents face discrimination in Salem on a daily or weekly basis, and most would not feel comfortable reporting bias crimes to police.
Sewer rehabilitation on Northeast Silverton Road – APPROVED
Councilors unanimously approved a mid-year wastewater project to repair 1,765 feet of pipe on Northeast Silverton Road, Northeast Lana Avenue and Northeast Evergreen Avenue at an estimated cost of $1.57 million. The city plans to rehabilitate the pavement on Northeast Silverton Road.
All present councilors voted in favor of the project, and councilor Jose Gonzalez was absent.
Public hearing on changes to five-year housing plan – APPROVED
Councilors unanimously approved amendments to the annual action plan, which guides how Salem spends federal resources toward low-and moderate-income households, people who are homeless and people with special needs.
The decision reallocated $569,596 to the city’s land acquisition fund from projects that did not respond to requests from city staff or opted not to pursue the award.
Updates to Fire Prevention Code – APPROVED
Councilors unanimously approved an ordinance to revise the city’s Fire Prevention Code, adopted in 2014, to align with the state fire code.
The Salem City Council meets Monday, Sept. 11, to hear the findings from the annual community belonging survey, which found nearly all homeless Salemites who responded have experienced discrimination.
Councilors will also consider approving a sewer rehabilitation project on Northeast Silverton Road, and amending plans for federal housing funds.
READ IT: AGENDA
How to participate
The council meets Monday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. in-person at the city council chambers, 555 Liberty St. S.E., room 220, with the meeting also available to watch online. The meeting will be livestreamed on Capital Community Media’s YouTube channel, with translation to Spanish and American Sign Language available. Anyone may attend the meeting to listen or comment.
The public comment portion of the meeting takes place after opening exercises, such as roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance, and residents are invited to comment on any topic, whether it appears on the agenda or not. If a public comment does not relate to an agenda item, it may be saved for the end of the meeting.
To comment remotely, sign up on the city website between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday.
For written comments, email [email protected] before 5 p.m. on Monday, or on paper to the city recorder’s office at the Civic Center, 555 Liberty St. S.E., Room 225. Include a statement indicating the comment is for the public record.
Community belonging survey
The council will hear an update from the city’s human rights commission about a community belonging survey that over 500 Salemites responded to.
Graduate students at Western Oregon University led the study, which in May surveyed 96 people experiencing homelessness and 478 housed people in both English and Spanish using a four-page questionnaire available online and in print.
Around 60% of those experiencing homelessness said that they did not feel Salem was welcoming. Nearly two-thirds of housed people said they felt Salem was welcoming “ for someone like me,” but only half said it was “welcoming for all.”
Over half of homeless respondents said they hear about or witness discrimination on a daily or weekly basis, mostly related to housing status followed by race, color or national origin and mental disability. Nine out of 10 said they’d personally experienced discrimination in the past year.
Of housed respondents, 65% said they’d heard or seen discrimination in the past year, and a third said they’d experienced it personally. Most reported observing discrimination related to race, color or national origin, followed by housing status.
Respondents said public outdoor spaces, like parks or streets, were the top place they had seen or experienced discrimination, followed by businesses and healthcare settings.
People experiencing homelessness, women, genderqueer and non-binary people, trans women, bi-racial or multi-racial people and people with disabilities had especially low perceptions of Salem, according to the report.
The survey also asked if Salemites were comfortable reporting bias crimes to the Salem Police Department. Nearly 70% of unhoused people said they would not be comfortable reporting bias crimes, compared to 31% of housed people.
Some respondents said they would not trust the department to take it seriously, or feared deportation or further victimization.
This is the Human Rights Commission’s fifth community belonging survey, but year-to-year comparisons of progress aren’t available due to changing questions, according to a staff report from Scott Archer, Deputy City Manager.
As a result of the survey, Archer said the commission plans to focus on improving trust in reporting hate crimes to law enforcement and ways to make Indigenous Mexican and Latino and other community members feel more welcome.
The group will also be looking for ways to decrease discrimination in public spaces, which could include increasing accessibility at large events for people with mobility issues, Archer said.
Sewer rehabilitation on Northeast Silverton Road
The city plans to rehabilitate the pavement on Northeast Silverton Road, but discovered a severely corroded sanitary sewer mainline. On Monday, councilors will consider approving a mid-year wastewater project to allow the design to start immediately, allowing the sewer line to be fixed before the pavement project starts.
The project would rehabilitate 615 feet of concrete pipe and 1,150 feet of reinforced concrete pipe on Northeast Silverton Road, Northeast Lana Avenue and Northeast Evergreen Avenue at an estimated cost of $1.57 million, according to a staff report from Brian Martin, public works director. Utility rate funds would cover the project, he said.
Public hearing on changes to five-year housing plan
Following a public hearing, councilors will consider adopting amendments to the Annual Action Plan, which guides how Salem spends federal resources toward low-and moderate-income households, people who are homeless and people with special needs. The five-year plan was adopted in 2020, covering through 2024.
According to a staff report from Kristin Retherford, community and urban development director, the three amendments would:
-Cancel a $130,716 award to a WestCare rehabilitation problem, after they did not respond to multiple attempts to contact them by staff.
-Cancel $438,880 worth of awards to IS Living Fisher/Sizemore Apartments, who failed to meet federal Department of Housing and Urban Development requirements and opted not to pursue the award.
-Add $569,596 to the City’s Land Acquisition for low to moderate-income housing for a total project award of $2,241,816.
Updates to Fire Prevention Code
Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.
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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.