A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City officials concerned about Signs of Victory

Written February 19th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

In May 2017, George Matland was overseeing construction of the Signs of Victory homeless shelter at 11th Avenue and Jackson Street.

Concerned about conditions at the Signs of Victory homeless shelter, Albany officials are working on a plan to deal with the situation, the city council learned Wednesday.

City Manager Peter Troedsson gave no details, saying that the proposal was not yet “ready for prime time.” He said he would bring it to a council meeting soon.

On Wednesday the council was meeting in its role of the Albany Revitalization Agency, which oversees the urban renewal program of the Central Albany Revitalization Area or CARA.

In 2017 the ARA loaned Signs of Victory $100,000 at 2.9 percent annual interest over five years to enable the mission to complete a new homeless shelter with 114 beds at its leased property at the corner of Jackson Street and 11th Avenue.

George Matland and his sister Gale Meehan run the mission, started by their mother, the late Maxine Matland. On Wednesday, the council/ARA voted 5-2 to approve a request by Matland to postpone a $27,175 loan payment due last December and instead pay only interest of $2,175. Councilors Rich Kellum and Mike Sykes voted no.

The mission has been counting on Christmas tree sales to make the annual loan payments. But tree sales this past holiday season were poor.

During the discussion on the loan issue and later, Kellum, Sykes and Councilor Bessie Johnson voiced concerns over the mission’s operation.

The council heard briefly from Troedsson and Kris Schendel, the city’s code enforcement officer whose program is funded 50 percent by CARA.

Troedsson acknowledged Signs of Victory as an important component of the community’s efforts to deal with homelessness. But according to Schendel, the mission’s shelter has a number of problems with alleged code violations on things like sleeping spaces, food storage, trash disposal, and others.

When Mayor Sharon Konopa said something about working with the mission leaders to to solve those issues, Kellum said, “Work with them or find somebody else.”

As for the substance of whatever the city administration has in mind, we’ll have to wait until it is revealed. (hh)

The story has been edited to correct who was talking about working with the mission.

11 responses to “City officials concerned about Signs of Victory”

  1. Ajae Corbett says:

    Sounds like they need an appointed director or manager from the city to ensure things are getting done. Otherwise, I think this much-needed shelter is going to end up closing and the owners defaulting on their loan.

    • Jasper says:

      The City shouldn’t have to babysit this failure of a charity. The charity needs to hire their own director or manager who knows how to run the day to day, manage what money they have, and follow through with correct procedures, because it very much appears that Mr. Matland does not know how to perform those duties.

      The Council needs to set a limit on how much they are going to be walked over regarding this, and let them know that they will find a different charity who will actually use the grants to achieve a good, healthy, working homeless assistance program.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The premise of CARA is that private property values will increase at a rate greater than they would have absent a public subsidy.

    The joy of CARA is that this premise can’t be disproved.

    But here we have public money being used to benefit a non-profit organization that doesn’t pay the property tax.

    This situation illustrates that CARA’s purpose goes beyond the “but for” supposition identified above.

    CARA has shown itself to be more than a source of unearned income for wealthy crony capitalists. CARA is also a welfare fund.

    The next time you hear an apologist try to justify CARA, keep in mind that it is nothing more than the council’s slush fund.

    The addictive quality of spending other people’s money for political gain is at work here.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      You do wear your heart on your sleeve! If you could prove any of your asinine assertions, you would. But since you can’t — keep trolling – because that’s all you do. LOL

  3. My Real Name John Hartman says:

    Another illustration of brilliant Albany Ward 3 leadership. One day they want to make Albany a weaponized sanctuary city. (Oh…it might look nice to replace those Tree City signs at Albany’s outskirts with signs reading, “Albany – Armed and Dangerous.”)
    That oughta serve to keep out pesky homeless types.

    Then, on the very next day Kellum and Johnson are hell bent on tearing down someone’s private property. The sacrosanct nature of individual rights takes one on the chin.

    And now we read that the WARD 3 representatives are split, with Kellum and Johnson feuding about CARA-funded operators late on their payments – like that has never happened previously. After Johnson demonstrates a pin cushion of empathy, looking for a solution to the matter at hand, in a masterful rhetorical pasquinade, Kellum states (in his now-famous mis-tempered manner,) “Work with them or find somebody else.”

    Indeed. There must be hundreds, if not thousands of Albany citizens who can make their payments. May the good lord have mercy on Albany.

  4. Cori Turley says:

    My husband and I stayed there and got bit up by bed bug. We would rather sleep in our car then to stay there. It’s so unorganized and it’s sad. They need some Major people in there to make positive changes and everyone needs to follow the rules or else they lose their spot. Shoot you need someone that has a heart to get that place up and running like it should be.

  5. Rachel La Brasseur says:

    I’d like to see the city try and get some control on Takena Landing before it’s overran with homeless campers again this year. Last year was a little hairy down there, some of the people kept to themselves and others not so much. One woman in particular had multiple aggressive interactions with people coming down to the park. She accused me of being a cop and out to get her and her 2 kids that were living down there, others she accused of going through her truck. Drug use is rampant in the summer and I won’t use the trail anymore. Human waste is an issue also and the garbage that piles up. I just want access to the river and enjoy the park like it was meant to be

    • Steve Reynolds says:

      I agree Rachel, I don’t want to live in a lawless community. I was over at Freeway lakes and it’s getting pretty hairy over there. Also, we floated the N. Santiam last year and had a club member’s car stolen at the take out, first time ever, that never happens in Oregon. We were at Davis lake and saw needles in the fire pits, at the Deschutes people come through the campground and stole fishing equipment. It’s everywhere and we’re not speaking up because we don’t want to make waves, but it’s like a cancer. You’re pretty brave using the trails, I would like to use them but don’t feel safe, APD is trying but we need to have their backs more.The trails should be designated as an “enhanced enforcement zone”.

  6. Steve Reynolds says:

    I have to agree with Councilor Kellum on this issue. I think he’s making the distinction between those that are homeless and those that are lawless. I absolutely agree that if someone is “homeless” and they are taking responsibility for their life and they are trying, willing to put the work in, we invest in them. We use our limited resources to help those individuals, they are an asset to the community. But those that come to this community because they think it’s someplace they can damage with impunity or do their drugs and just engage in any lawless behavior they feel like, this isn’t the community for them. Do we want to be like a community for instance Salem, where they have just given up, they just accept any behavior at this point because they have lost control, they’re paralyzed? How about Lebanon that tells their homeless/lawless, go over to Albany they have shelters over there? If Lebanon is going to take this position isn’t this a Linn County problem? I think Councilor Kellum asks the right questions, who to solve the issue? We do have organizations that are trained and can deal with the lawless and the homeless, one is called our LC sheriff department, maybe they need more beds, there’s modular options out there. Some can be designated as shelter beds under sheriff supervision, I see this is an approach other communities are taking in order to be in compliance with the 9th circuit shelter bed requirement. Along with CSC, Linn County Mental Health, DHS, we have the tools to work on this issue. These organizations are the professionals they have the skill sets to deal with this, Our limited resources should be spent on the professionals, enough with the lawlessness.

  7. CHEZZ says:

    Hello Albany Helping Hands – they ‘get it’. There have been several issues with mismanagement over the years with Signs of Victory – why would anyone think that this endeavor would be any different?

  8. Ashley says:

    The Albany Signs of Victory does more to encourage drug use in this town than any homelessness problem we faced. Many stay there as a means to find easy drugs while their children they’ve left behind suffer wondering where their parents went. The owners should be in jail for the things they allow to go on there, and the state of their property is just another “sign of failure.” An investigation should be taking place to understand just how bad the problem is, but instead the city is allowing and encouraging it by funding this meth house, which is all that it is.


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