The Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force has held two meetings. The task force is chaired by Councilor Cara Kaser. It is facilitated by Kristen Retherford, City of Salem Urban Development Director. The eighteen members of the task force were appointed by Chuck Bennett, mayor of Salem. Originally, three meetings of 90 minutes each were planned. On March 6, during the second meeting, task force members voted to add a fourth meeting, and also voted to extend future meetings to two hours each.
During the first meeting on February 6, each member was asked to describe his/her personal experiences with homeless people in the downtown core area. A list of concerns/issues was created. During the second meeting, members prioritized what they consider the most critical of these issues. Often identified were sanitation and hygiene, trash, public safety, funding for mental health services, and drug and alcohol addiction resources.
Over one hundred people have attended each of the first two meetings. Public comments may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It was announced that the third and fourth meetings may focus on possible solutions to the problems identified and prioritized.
The third and next meeting is scheduled in the Anderson Room of the Salem Public Library at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, March 20.