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June 6, 2007, 11:30 a.m.

Human Relations Commission Agenda
City Commission Room, Fargo City Hall

1.      Welcome and Introductions

2.      Approval of Agenda

3.      Approval of Minutes

4.      Announcements

5.      Presentation: Fargo’s 10 Year Plan to End Long Term Homelessness

6.      FHRC Activities Plan

a.      Goal 1: Public inquiries and discrimination complaints 
b.      Goal 2: Know Your Rights Initiative
c.      Goal 3: Acceptance and respect for diversity efforts

7.      Funding Requests 

8.      Public Comment (12:15)

9.      Reschedule July 4 FHRC meeting

10.    Other Business not Listed on the Agenda

11.    Adjourn

Fargo Human Relations Commission
Regular Meeting


1.      Welcome and Introductions (11:38 a.m.)
Chair Kobrinsky called the meeting to order and introductions were made. Commissioners present were Alisha Ankers, Fowzia Adde, Hatem Nour, Janeen Kobrinsky, Joy Rice, Prairie Rose, and Yoke Sim Gunaratne. Commissioners absent were Amy Phillips and Chuck Stebbins.

2.      Approval of Agenda (11:39 a.m.)
Ankers moved to approve the agenda as presented. Second by Rice. All commissioners present voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

3.      Approval of Minutes (11:40 a.m.)
Ankers moved to approve the minutes as presented. Second by Prairie Rose. All commissioners present voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

4.      Announcements (11.41 a.m.)
Gunaratne announced that the Midwest Kids Fest will be held at Island Park, June 15 from 11:00-7:00 p.m. There will be several booths geared toward the focus on agriculture from different countries.

5.      Presentation: Fargo’s 10 Year Plan to End Long Term Homelessness (11:43 a.m.)
Mahli presented information on Fargo’s 10 year plan to end long term homelessness. Information included basic characteristics of homelessness; risk factors for chronic homeless individuals; why the community’s long term homeless are in a “housing crisis”; why we want to end long term homelessness; how we can eliminate the housing crisis – such as utilizing the 7 strategies in “Going Home”; and statistics on the homeless population.

The conception of the plan to end long term homelessness came from the President. It was decided not just to do the right thing but to decrease the horrific costs of homelessness. For a progressive community it’s not acceptable to leave it as it is.

Information shows that homeless individuals have numerous needs. A homeless individual could be displaced due to a fire, they could be a battered wife, they could be someone with a substance abuse or mental issue, or they could be discharged from various facilities because their time is up. The remaining focus is to end homelessness, not to maintain it. And, most changes come from old money used in new ways. We want to be able to focus on solutions, lead with our strengths, work towards a common goal, and create a front door for the homeless.

Statistically, Fargo is home to almost half of the long term homeless in the state of North Dakota. Out of that total, approximately 400 are homeless on any given night. In addition, 10,000 individuals are living in poverty in the Fargo Moorhead area.

To better gauge the homeless population, approximately 130 volunteers did a point-in-time survey to take a snapshop of what was happening in a day. The study has been and will continue to be done once per year. The plan was approved in August with 68 agenda items. An update will be given in August to include a 2006 analysis. One measure of success will be the amount of permanent housing that is created.

Moving forward, it was suggested to use this Commission to speak in support of the mission to end homelessness. It might also be helpful to publish the 10 year plan in the Forum. It’s important to advertise the whole picture and get others involved. It might take building a relationship to engage the homeless back into the system.

6.      FHRC Activities Plan (12:07 p.m.)
a.      Goal 1: Public inquiries and discrimination complaints 
Mahli presented graphical information on the discrimination complaints and public inquiries brought to the Human Relations Commission. The Commission is committed to analyze inquiries and complaints; address the issues; strengthen follow-up complaint resolution; create a measurement tool; and begin to document informal discrimination complaints.

Overall, the data shows that Public Service seems to be an area of concern. It was suggested to break down this and other categories further to better target the problems. It was also noted to add totals and percentages to the breakdowns. From there, the Commission can focus its efforts on the areas with the highest percentages.

Mahli recommended the Executive Committee to follow up with the complaints and inquiries at the next mini retreat.

Nour expressed interest and concern for following up with the areas of concentration. Gunaratne stated that the Executive Committee is dedicated to making changes in regards to the complaints and inquiries. She suggested that Nour consider being part of that committee.

b.      Goal 2: Know Your Rights Initiative (12:14 p.m.)
An update was given on the status of the Know Your Rights cards. Since the conception, the initiative has made bounds of progress. The Commission is still struggling, however, to get the cards translated. Interns have been working on locating and pricing proficient translators to alleviate this.

One suggestion was made in regards to distributing the cards. It might be beneficial to mail the cards to local businesses and agencies to target the appropriate audience.

c.      Goal 3: Acceptance and respect for diversity efforts (12:22 p.m.)
Efforts continue to name the 12th Avenue North Bridge after Gladys Ray, for a lifetime of service to the homeless and Native American populations in the FM area.

7.      Funding Requests (12:24 p.m.)
No funding requests were presented.

8.      Public Comment (12:25 p.m.)
Cheryl Bergian, from the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, suggested the Commission contact the ND Department of Labor in regards to discrimination complaints and public inquiries. She stated we might be able to pool our data or model our data after theirs.

Bergian also commented on a flyer that was distributed on Sunday evening, between 25th Avenue North and 32nd Avenue North, and between Broadway and 9th Street North. She suggested that the Commission consider holding a public meeting in that area to inform residents what has happened and give them a chance to respond. Police Chief Owen, from the crime’s associated area, stated race did not play a role in the crimes. Despite discussion, statistics show that white people are more often the crime victims of other whites. Bergian said the flyer is extremely misleading and factors are discounted but it is the effort of this Commission to work against this kind of communication.

It is important to note that flyers of this kind have been distributed in the past. The Commission will discuss what action to take in regards to this matter. In addition, the Hate Crime Committee can be notified and can discuss follow-up procedures. For more background on the movement distributing the flyers, contact Bergian.

Bergian also brought an advertisement from our city snapshot to the Commission’s attention. She stated, upon further research of the service, she found their mission statement to not be all-inclusive. She questioned the manner in which services and agencies get approved to be in the City Snapshot. She reiterated that if an ad does not adhere to our goals, there is concern because they are getting free marketing and our City seal by being included.  

Mahli responded by stating the Executive Committee will follow-up with this issue at the next meeting as well.

On a final note, Bergian handed out invitations to a fundraiser for the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition at Maple River Winery on June 7, 5-7 p.m. at 628 Front Street in Casselton.

9.      Reschedule July 4 FHRC meeting (12:42 p.m.)
It was suggested to hold an Executive Committee meeting on July 11 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. at the Green Market. Here, an update on the FHRC Inquiries will be reviewed.

10.      Other Business not Listed on the Agenda
Nate Bailly informed the Commission on the upcoming Human Rights Coalition conference on October 19 and 20 at the NDSU campus. Damali Ayo and Jennifer Baumgardner will be the two keynote speakers.

11.      Adjourn
The meeting adjourned at 12:45 p.m.