Former homeless resident tells his story to council members

A man who was helped out of homelessness shared his experience and desire to help others at the March 14 Lebanon City Council meeting.

Michael Scherado, 36, accompanied Dave Albanese, Lebanon Police Department community service officer, during a presentation to the Council on the coalition.

Albanese chairs the coalition, which was formed in 2016 after the city’s summit on homelessness event.

“Michael and I first met in a homeless camp down by the river,” Albanese said. “Michael was in a difficult place.”

Scherado also had warrants, which Albanese told him he had to deal with.

Scherado’s downward spiral started when his mother died on June 5, 2016.

“Losing my mom, I lost everything. I gave up,” Scherado said. “I didn’t do what I was supposed to be doing. I was messing up. The day Dave got me at Ralston Park, I was done.”

Albanese gave him the push he needed and “helped me out in more ways than most people would,” Scherado said.

Now he has a full time job and is able to provide for his 13-year-old son, 6-month old baby and fiance, he said.

“I’m clean and sober,” Scherado said. “I want to help people get back on their feet.”

Albanese pointed out that others also helped Scherado overcome obstacles.

Scherado lives in Lebanon but works a swing shift in Corvallis.

His fiance, Asia Smouse, used to drive him to and from work because fines prevented him from having his drivers license.

A coworker learned of Scherado’s situation and went down to the court house to find out how much he owed, Albanese said.

That gentleman wrote a check for $2,600 so Scherado could get his license back, he said.

The couple saves on gas money and time now that Scherado can drive himself.

“A lot of people have been pushed out of town,” Scherado said of others who are homeless. “I’m here to help if someone needs a ride somewhere. I’m willing to help them out.”

Scherado said a lot of people have helped him out.

The councilors thanked Scherado for sharing his story

“I’m proud of what you’ve done for yourself and your family,” said Councilor Wayne Rieskamp.

“I don’t have a dad. He’s my dad,” Scherado said, motioning to Albanese.

Mayor Paul Aziz asked Albanese if field contacts were the main way he contacted people who are homeless and need help.

He said the soup kitchen and school district are among the variety of ways he learns about people who are homeless.

“It’s a little bit of a journey to get some of the information from people,” Albanese said.

Albanese said one of the missions of the coalition on homelessness was to remove as many barriers as possible that keep people from achieving their goals.

Through the coalition, agency representatives have been able to develop relationships with each other.

They want to get help to those who want help.

Working with families that have children is sometimes difficult, he said, because sometimes parents do not want to work with certain agencies.

Kyle Randleman, of PNW Adult & Teen Challenge, has been part of the coalition on homelessness since its inception.

Randleman said there is a Linn County Adult Services team, a group of nonprofit and government agencies, that is a great resource.

“We have a lot of resources in our hands,” Randleman said. “We all meet in one place now. We as a team work together. The people who want to change are going to take the steps we tell them.”

Randleman said they will give a person who needs help a plan and walk them through that plan.

That person returns a couple of months later to check in and talk about what they were able to accomplish as well as any barriers.

“The thing we were finding is that transportation was a barrier,” Randleman said.

For that, the group is trying to find volunteers who are willing to take people to appointments, he said.

During public comments, Tami Harvey asked why citizens weren’t invited to be on the coalition for homelessness.

“The idea of the coalition was to have agencies together,” Aziz said.

“I think the intent was that the citizens could be involved with the agencies,” Councilor Jason Bolen added.

Aziz encouraged her to contact Albanese.

“If you want to be involved, I’m sure Dave has something you can help with,” he said.

In other businesses, the council:

n Approved a tourism agreement with the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce to staff and operate a Visitor’s Information Center six days a week to provide local citizens and visitors with “information about Lebanon area visitor facilities, recreational opportunities, city services, and provide a clearinghouse for the dissemination of other requested information about the Lebanon area.”

The $80,000 annual contract comes from transient room tax money and includes $50,000 designated for “grants, marketing or infrastructure related to the promotion of tourism in the city.”

n Approved a $22,500 250-hour annual intergovernmental agreement with the Lebanon Fire District for information technology services provided by city IT staff, primarily computer maintenance and replacement.

n Approved the refinancing of bonds used to fund two loans to the city for water, sewer, storm water and street improvements. A memo from Finance Director Matt Apken said that refinancing could save the city more than $248,000 over the next 13 years of repayment.

n Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Albany for the Santiam-Albany Canal regarding extending the timelines for completion of a number of water projects shared by the cities, including various storm drain improvements, management of Cheadle Lake water levels and the concrete outlet structure, and an emergency action plan for the canal.

n Approved revisions to the city’s ordinance on public contracting, which City Attorney Tré Kennedy said would improve “cumbersome and difficult-to-follow” portions of the existing ordinance. Based on a model prepared last year by the League of Oregon Cities, the new ordinance allows the city manager or a designee to award contracts and amendments up to $100,000 without City Council authorization, so long as the changes are included in the current fiscal year budget. That figure was raised from $75,000, Kennedy said in a memo to the council. He said the new ordinance also clarifies procedures for disposal of surplus city property.

n Appointed Joshua Port to the Lebanon Budget Committee and the Lebanon Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Board to serve the remainder of a three-year term through June 30, 2020.

n Created an ad hoc committee to review design ideas and make a recommendation to the council of the placement of an entrance monument/sign near Academy Square. The following residents, business owners, and staff are being recommended due to their proximity of the proposed monument site: Jeff King, resident; Sally Skaggs, Santiam Place;  Ed Malewski, St. Edwards church representative; Mel Neufeld, Lebanon Pill Box;  Alicia Rogers, Lebanon Downtown Association; Kendra Antila, library director; and Jason Williams, Maintenance Division director.