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Supervisors Approve Using $4 Million in American Rescue Plan Act Funds for Homelessness Programs

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors recently approved $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for projects addressing homelessness by increasing interim housing opportunities, creating more rental units and bolstering outreach efforts to prevent homelessness by helping individuals stay housed.

“We have to keep leaning in on this issue,” said Supervisor James Gore, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “We need a compassionate approach, a results-driven approach, but also an accountable approach to homelessness.”

Supervisors approved the funding after receiving an overall update on the state of homelessness in Sonoma County including an analysis of recent Point-in-Time Count data, recent Continuum of Care actions and long-term community goals to get to “functional zero” homelessness in the region.

Key takeaways include:

  • Preliminary numbers for the 2022 Sonoma County PIT count showed 2,893 individuals were experiencing some form of homelessness, an increase of 5 percent from the 2020 count of 2,745, (No count was taken in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Some populations saw significant increases, such as youth homelessness, which was up 68 percent. But some segments saw significant decreases, including homeless families, which were down 40 percent.
  • Overall, the county had been experiencing an overall downward trend since 2011 when the number of local homeless exceeded 4,000.
  • Interim housing inventory is increasing, but Sonoma County still needs about 188 units. The county also needs to identify roughly 1,000 units of supportive or other housing to meet current demand. Significant new funding has come to the region from state, federal, and local sources, including funding from the Board of Supervisors.
  • Significant funding over the next several years will be needed to add interim and permanent supportive housing units to reach functional zero.
  • In the medium and long-term, more funding is needed, especially for supportive services.

Approved allocations of ARPA funding include up to $2.16 million to make existing housing units available for rent via home sharing and property owner recruitment. This proven and cost effective tool has worked to help house more vulnerable but housing-ready people as well as to provide income streams for persons who may need the income to retain their housing. Deposit subsidies, move-in assistance, minor repair funds, and more will help accomplish this effort, which also includes software to show what units are available in real-time.

Another allocation includes $620,000 to supplement a countywide peer support program. The 18-month program will hire peers to help get homeless individuals secure benefits where eligible and get ready for placement in housing.

Another $250,000 will go to improve Sonoma County’s 2-1-1 information portal to aid in homelessness prevention. An allocation of $200,000 will help build on a spring 2022 region-wide effort to drop agency and non-profit barriers when a person first might experience homelessness.  

Two projects, totaling $865,000, will expand housing units and rapid support, including $200,000 for outreach teams to provide rapid and short-term solutions that may help a person stay housed. The remaining $665,000 is slated for housing units that might add to the supply of interim housing or permanent supportive housing based on recommendations from the region’s current strategic planning effort (due to be completed in December 2022). 

The proposed actions and funding advance objectives outlined in the Healthy and Safe Communities pillar of the county’s five-year Strategic Plan, which includes the goal of reducing homelessness by 10 percent annually.

For more information on Sonoma County’s homelessness services please visit SonomaCounty.ca.gov.

For more information on the county’s five-year Strategic plan visit socostrategicplan.org.


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