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Transition Plan to Serve Southwest Neighborhoods

On March 10, City Council formally approved Ordinance No. 190321, authorizing the hiring of two positions within Civic Life to directly support neighborhood associations in Southwest Portland, and enter into a grant agreement with a nonprofit organization to provide liability insurance.

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Transition Plan

For more than 70 years, neighborhood associations have helped communities stay connected and engaged with the City and we are excited to work with you as you continue this important work. On March 10, City Council formally approved Ordinance No. 190321, authorizing the hiring of two coordinator positions within the Office of Community Civic Life to directly support neighborhood associations in Southwest Portland, and enter into a grant agreement with a nonprofit organization to provide liability insurance coverage for neighborhood associations and place-based community groups in Southwest Portland.

As we develop a comprehensive plan to best support you, we want to underscore that the transition of services will take time. Per Commissioner Hardesty’s direction and City Council’s approval of the ordinance, Civic Life will ensure that we are building out services in an intentional, fair, and inclusive way.

Below are the top priorities Civic Life will manage over the next 100 days. For additional details, please see FAQ below. The FAQs will be continually updated.

Top Priorities in our First 100 Days:

1. Connecting with Southwest Neighborhoods: To provide an opportunity to ask questions and connect with us, Civic Life will host two virtual meetings for SW neighborhood associations. We hope that you will join us.

Civic Life Open House for SW Portland Communities

March 17, 12:00-1:00pm, Watch the recorded session here

March 17, 6:00-7:00pm, Watch the recorded session here

2. Insurance Coverage: Civic Life has launched an RFP to select a qualified nonprofit organization to provide liability insurance coverage to Southwest neighborhoods. Find out more and how to apply for the RFP here.

Liability insurance was secured for neighborhood associations through the FY 2019-2020 grant. Coverage extends to June 30, 2021.

3. Staffing to Support Southwest Neighborhoods: Civic Life is actively working to start the hiring of two coordinators to staff the delivery of services to neighborhoods and other place-based community groups in Southwest Portland. The City’s hiring process typically takes 100 days. We expect coordinators to start around July 2021.

4. Needs Assessment and Updating Contact Info: Our staff will be contacting each of your associations to confirm or update your key contact information to help facilitate ongoing communication with all City Bureaus that provide information and benefits to recognized neighborhood associations. We will also connect with SW neighborhoods to understand community needs and priorities for services to inform the work of the coordinators and program services they will offer.

We will continue to share updates with you in the coming weeks, as well as seek your support in promoting the coordinator job openings and the request for proposal for insurance coverage.

We appreciate you and the work you are doing. We’ll continue to serve as a resource for you, and we thank you for patience as we work to hire and onboard new staff. Thank you for your efforts in navigating this transition with us.


Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions from SW Neighborhood Associations

1. What is the intent of Commissioner Hardesty’s ordinance?

The purpose of Ordinance No. 190321 is to ensure the delivery of services to neighborhood associations in Southwest Portland in accordance with City values and as outlined in City Code 3.96 and ONI Standards.

2. What services will the City provide?

The transition of services will take time. Per Commissioner Hardesty’s direction and City Council’s approval, Civic Life will ensure that we are building out services in an intentional, fair, and inclusive way.  

Here are the short-term, immediate areas of focus that we’re actively working on:

  • Launch a public request for proposals to select a qualified nonprofit organization to provide liability insurance coverage to SW neighborhoods. Our aim is to begin coverage as close to July 2021 as possible.
    • Liability insurance was secured for neighborhood associations through the FY 19-20 grant. Coverage extends to June 30, 2021.
  • Hiring two coordinators to staff the delivery of services to neighborhoods and place-based community groups in Southwest Portland. The City’s hiring process typically takes 100 days. We expect coordinators to start around July.
  • Between now and July, we will be connecting with communities and assessing needs. Our staff will be contacting each of your associations to confirm or update your key contact information to help facilitate ongoing communication with all City Bureaus that provide information and benefits to recognized neighborhood associations. We will also connect with SW neighborhoods to understand community needs and priorities for services to inform the work of the coordinators and program services they offer. Community members have already expressed some of the services they would like to see from the City, and we will continue to connect to understand priorities and details.

In addition, SW neighborhood associations will continue to receive benefits as a City-recognized entity. These include:

  • Neighborhood associations and business districts continue to be named in the bureau directory, which is used by the City for public outreach.
  • Neighborhood associations and business districts continue to be placed on official maps and City information relating to neighborhood affairs.
  • Notices by City agencies (as required in City Code) will continue to be delivered to neighborhood associations.
  • Support services and program offerings from Civic Life’s Community Safety, Constructing Civic Dialogues, Noise, Graffiti Removal, Liquor Licensing, Cannabis Licensing, Cannabis Grantmaking, Census 2020 and all other programs will continue to be delivered to neighbors in Southwest Portland.

Once the SW coordinators are hired, which we expect will be around July, we will work with SW neighborhoods to deliver services they have identified as priorities. Some of the priorities we have heard so far include services for:

  • Communications support
  • Organizational development and operations technical assistance 
  • Fiscal sponsorship issues
  • Event support
  • Trainings
  • Public records management and retention
  • Meeting space/mailing address support
  • Connection and collaboration with other organizations, City bureaus, and government entities.

Once coordinators have started, they will offer a process for applying for reimbursement for communications and organizational expenses through the Community Activities Fund. It will be similar to East Portland’s process, and we hope to announce the details of this process after coordinators have been hired. To learn about EPCO’s Community Activities Fund, visit Community Activities Fund reimbursement request process.

3. When will the new coordinators be on board?

The two coordinators authorized by City Council’s ordinance will be employees of the Office of Community & Civic Life. Civic Life will conduct an external and competitive hiring process through the Bureau of Human Resources.

The ordinance authorizing the hiring of two coordinators will take effect 30 days after the passage of the ordinance on March 10. This means that Civic Life can begin hiring in mid-April. We will conduct an efficient and competitive process. The City’s hiring process typically takes 100 days. With this timeline in mind, SW communities can expect coordinators to start as soon as July.

4. Who is our main contact during this interim period while the coordinators are being hired?

Andrea Williams, Partnerships Manager at the Office of Community & Civic Life, will serve as the staff liaison through this transition. She will serve as the main point of contact for SW neighborhood associations until coordinators are hired, and can be reached at andrea.williams@portlandoregon.gov.

5. Will neighborhood associations still get insurance coverage? By when can they expect it?

Yes, the ordinance authorizes Civic Life to provide insurance coverage for neighborhood associations and place-based community groups in Southwest Portland through a grant agreement with a nonprofit partner. The ordinance authorizes Civic Life to execute a grant agreement not to exceed $20,000 for this purpose.

Civic Life will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) and select a nonprofit partner. Our goal is to provide insurance coverage as close to July 2021 as possible.

Liability insurance was secured for neighborhood associations through the FY 2019-2020 grant to SWNI. Coverage extends to June 30, 2021.

Similar liability insurance coverage funding is currently provided by the City-staffed district coalitions EPCO and NPNS through grant agreements with nonprofit organizations.

6. What happens with fiscal sponsorships and bank accounts currently held with SWNI?

It is up to each neighborhood association to determine what works best for them. Neighborhood associations that have current fiscal sponsorships and bank accounts managed by SWNI need to communicate directly with SWNI to understand their plan and offerings moving forward. 

As a City bureau, we are unable to provide nonprofit services such as managing bank accounts and providing fiscal sponsorships. City staff may support neighborhood associations in connecting to nonprofit partners to provide these services.

Many neighborhood associations have their own 501c3 tax exempt status and manage their own accounts.

Here are some resources in understanding fiscal sponsorships and what to consider:

7. Will there be a community-based office?

We see great value in community offices having a physical presence in communities. As demonstrated with our City-staffed offices at EPCO and NPNS, both office locations are within their service area. Once coordinators are hired and priority services are delivered, we will explore options for a community-based presence. In the meantime, coordinators will help community members connect with existing meeting spaces in SW and share meeting equipment, like audiovisual equipment, that Civic Life already owns.

Neighborhood associations currently using the SWNI mailing addresses or that have items stored at the SWNI office will need to contact SWNI directly to make alternative plans if needed.

8. Should currently planned events be put on hold?

Civic Life will have additional staff capacity with the onboarding of two coordinators as soon as July. Once they start, they will reach out to each of the SW neighborhood associations about what support is needed, including event planning support. In the meantime, it is up to the discretion of each neighborhood association if it needs to delay an event.

9. What will happen to small grants that have already been awarded?

SWNI requested and received funding for $9,443 for Fiscal Year 19-20 for Small Grants funding. In August 2020, SWNI filed an extension to Civic Life to allow reporting on the funding and implementation by Jun 30, 2021.

Civic Life continues to work with SWNI to report on and close out the small grants. Small grants fund distribution will be carried out by SWNI as planned.

10. Will there be support for neighborhood association websites?

If your neighborhood association has a website, please email the website URL to andrea.williams@portlandoregon.gov and we will link to it on the Civic Life  Neighborhood Association Pages directory.

If you will need website support, one of the new coordinator’s roles will include communications technical assistance including website, newsletter, and other communications support needs.  

Once the new coordinators start, Civic Life will offer a process for applying for reimbursement for communications and organizational expenses through the Community Activities Fund.

Modeled after EPCO’s process, the Community Activities Fund (CAF) is a reimbursement program which provides funding support to volunteer-led community groups and organizations. The spirit of this funding is to support volunteer community groups in community-building and civic engagement activities. Some examples of eligible activities include: 

  • Meeting/workshop costs – Zoom accounts, rental space, interpretation, translation, childcare, food, etc.
  • Project, event, and activity costs - supplies and materials, rental space, etc.
  • Payment for services supporting a project or activity - speakers, performers, presenters, etc.
  • Production of promotional materials - outreach materials, flyers, posters, etc.
  • Other needs on a case-by-case basis

We are in process of developing the announcement and application process details and will announce it publicly after we hire the coordinator positions.  

11. How will this new change affect neighborhood associations ability to represent residents who request help with land use appeals? How do we receive land use notifications?

All benefits of City recognition will continue including:

  • Neighborhood associations and business districts will continue to be named in the bureau directory, which is used by the City for public outreach. The bureau directory lists the contact information of the neighborhood association, its president and/or other neighborhood association designated officers and committee chairs.
  • Neighborhood associations and business districts will continue to be placed on official maps and City information relating to neighborhood affairs.
  • Notices by City agencies as required in City Code will continue to be delivered to neighborhood associations.
  • Appeal waivers granted by the Bureau of Development Services remain the same. Here is the form for an appeal for a land use review case, which states, “No appeal fee is charged when appeal is filed by Civic Life recognized organizations for properties within organization’s boundaries.”

If you need to update your neighborhood association contact information for land use notifications or other purposes, please email Marco.Mejia@portlandoregon.gov.

12. How will neighborhoods be involved in setting priorities?

SW neighborhoods influence the top priorities for SW needs in the following ways:

  1. The current needs of SW community members are already shaping the priorities for the coordinators when they start.
  2. Civic Life staff will be available to attend neighborhood association meetings to continue to learn about top priorities and assess needs. Please send any invitations to meetings you’d like Civic Life staff to attend to andrea.williams@portlandoregon.gov.
  3. There will be an opportunity for SW community members to serve on the selection committee hiring the two new coordinators. Civic Life will announce a nominations process for SW community members to be considered to serve on the selection committee.

13.  How is Civic Life communicating to SW neighborhoods during the transition?

So far, each of the 17 neighborhood association boards and board presidents have been emailed the Civic Life transition letter and FAQ information. Civic Life staff also held two virtual open houses on March 17. Recordings of the meetings can be found here.

Civic Life staff will continue to send updates to the 17 neighborhood associations about the transition process via email and will schedule a time to attend neighborhood association meetings. Civic Life staff are also available via phone  at 503-823-5907.

14Will there be support for neighborhood committees?

Yes. When the new coordinators are hired, they will be available to support neighborhood activities and committees.

15. What will be the FY 2021-2022 budget for SW neighborhoods?

For FY21-22 (starting July 1) Civic Life was required to submit a budget with 5% proposed reduction to our general fund revenue.

Civic Life’s currently proposed allocation for Southwest neighborhoods is $282,543 (reflecting a 5% reduction).

The ordinance passed on March 10 directs Civic Life to hire two coordinators and select a nonprofit partner to provide liability insurance. These costs will take up a significant amount of the budget. We know that we have committed up to $20,000 for insurance. We won’t know what the exact salary amount for the coordinators will be until we hire them. After that we can determine the balance that is available for other programming.

We will prioritize the service requests made by SW neighbors and develop options that are equitable and aligned with the City’s values.  This will happen after we have hired the new coordinators and know what remaining budget is available.


Request for Proposal

Civic Life is seeking proposals to assist nonprofits to obtain organizational liability insurance coverage this spring. We will award one grant of up to $20,000 to a nonprofit organization partner.
 
For more details about the RFP, registration details for the informational session and submittal instructions visit the website here.

Contact

Andrea Williams

Civic Life Partnerships Manager