Category: news2

Salem Weekly Homeless Resource Guide 2016

Economic indicators suggest that homelessness in Oregon is on the rise. The most recent  Marion and Polk homeless  count by the Community Action Agency (2015) conservatively estimates that 1,660 school age children, veterans and other men and women currently sleep in the alleys, urban forests, in vehicles and under bridges in our area. People who have no homes have the same human needs as those who do: food, shelter, medicine clothing and hygiene. This comprehensive listing of where these needs can be addressed will continue to be revised in the months and years ahead.  Meanwhile, the City of Salem...

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Don’t gather at your Salem city hall

A city rule clarification adopted in October 2015 formally limits public use of Salem’s City Hall “Atrium,” the wide covered courtyard inside the civic center. Also affected is public use of the breezeways adjacent to city offices. Now, officially, neither is available for public assembly. The policy to clarify city management of the space was introduced by City Attorney Dan Atchison last fall. Prior to the vote, councilors reviewed a staff report in support of the clarification. The report that said the Atrium, while open to the public and for visitors coming to the Civic Center Plaza for specific...

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Unexpected county service provides income

A waste facility located in Marion County is bringing income into the area by burning medical waste, including medical waste from out of state. The business is an energy-from-waste (EFW) facility located in Brooks just off Interstate 5. One of several facilities overseen by Marion County Environmental Services department, it is privately owned and operated by Covanta Marion, Inc. In addition to processing about 550 tons of garbage each day, (about 90% of the county’s garbage,) Covanta also serves as the only location in Oregon approved to accept medical waste for decontamination and destruction. In Fiscal Year 2014-2015, Marion County received $67,000 in revenue for processing out-of-state medical waste, according to Jolene Kelley, Public Information Officer for Marion County. The waste came from various locations in Washington state and was transported by trailers. Both the Washington Department of Ecology and Washington State Department of Health regulate and inspect the transport of medical waste in Washington. In Oregon, four state agencies  regulate the process: The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Health Services, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Oregon Department of Transportation. Marion County receives income from the Washington state’s medical waste not only for Marion County’s receipt of it, but also from income gained from burning it for energy. Like other burning that occurs at the Covanta facility, medical waste is incinerated at temperatures...

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Is Salem an affordable place to rent?

The recent study, “Out of Reach 2016” by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) compared the states for rental affordability. It showed that renters in Oregon, as well as in the U.S. in general, are in trouble. Rental “affordability” is measured by the number of hours one must work at the minimum wage and the average renter’s wage to afford a no-frills apartment. We used the study’s data to compare Oregon’s three biggest cities; Portland, Eugene and Salem. The results show that a tremendous amount of work hours must be expended for people to afford basic rental housing: For two-bedroom apartments Eugene is the least affordable city. In Eugene a 62-hour workweek is required to afford a basic two-bedroom. Salem is the most affordable with a 56-hour workweek required, compared to Portland’s 58. Portland takes the cake as the most expensive city, requiring an income of $48,320 for a basic two-bedroom apartment – but Portland also has higher incomes than either Salem or Eugene. Even with Salem being the most “affordable,” an average renter must work full-time seven days a week for a two-bedroom apartment. These statistics have a real impact on millennials who live in the Salem area. Although a December 2014 Pew Research Center study finds the number of Millennials living at home nationally has decreased to 32% from a high of 36% in 2012, the...

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Is Oregon cannabis “out of the closet”?

Seven months after the legalization of recreational marijuana, one would expect Oregonians to be open about their use of the drug. Nationally, the state is considered predominantly “blue” and cannabis-friendly. But many in Oregon still conceal pot use from partners, employers, friends and children. They say the drug has yet to become truly socially acceptable. “Lisa” (not her real name) has used marijuana “recreationally” to address anxiety and chronic pain for years. She says, “I hide the fact that I smoke, even though it is now legal.” Lisa lost her job because of cannabis; during a medical exam following...

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