Sonoma County opened an emergency shelter site yesterday afternoon at the County Government Center campus, creating a new source of temporary housing for unsheltered individuals camped along Joe Rodota Trail and other public places.
The site, located in a parking lot at 400 Administration Drive, is equipped with 87 tents and an array of support services to help unsheltered people transition into permanent housing. Approximately 70 to 100 individuals are expected to move in by the end of the week.
Individuals who have rejected the offer to relocate have already received a notice to vacate the trail within 72 hours on Monday, March 20, as required by law. They are not required to accept the alternative location but must clear their belongings before the end of the 72-hour period on Thursday, March 23. The Joe Rodota Trail will then be temporarily closed from Wright Road to Roberts Avenue to facilitate debris cleanup and infrastructure repair by Sonoma County Regional Parks. The trail will remain closed until the extensive cleanup and repair can be completed and safe public access can be restored.
The emergency shelter site is managed by DEMA Consulting & Management, a Santa Rosa company that provides shelter support services and medical staff under contract with the county. Site managers will implement and enforce rules to protect the safety and security of shelter residents and the surrounding neighborhood. Security will be at the site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to patrol the shelter site as well as the surrounding area. Individuals seeking to live at the emergency shelter site will be screened in advance. Individuals with convictions for violent and/or sexual offenses will be excluded.
Case management will also provide on-site support services that include behavioral and physical health care, housing assistance and access to job training for individuals of the managed care sites. Case management will be “housing-focused,” meaning that individuals will work regularly on activities that help prepare them for their next housing steps.
The appearance of homeless encampments around the county, particularly on Joe Rodota Trail, has underscored the urgent need for additional emergency shelter space. The current shortage of both interim and permanent supportive housing in Sonoma County has limited the county’s ability to clear the encampments along Joe Rodota Trail, which has repeatedly been closed over the last four years due to public safety concerns.
Meanwhile, Sonoma County will continue to address the shortage of alternative shelters, interim housing and permanent housing that warranted the creation of the emergency shelter site on the county campus. Two more Project Homekey housing sites will be opening in Sonoma County. One, The Studios at Montero in Petaluma, will open 60 single-occupancy permanent supportive housing units next month in a former motel. The second, located at George’s Hideaway in Guerneville, will open next year after the shuttered lodge is converted into 21 units of permanent supportive housing.
More affordable housing units are under construction or in development including Shiloh Terrace in Windsor and the 414 Petaluma Apartments. The Sonoma County Housing Authority has secured 71 new vouchers including Mainstream Vouchers to serve non-elderly disabled persons who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) Vouchers serving homeless veterans in partnership with the Veterans Administration, Housing Choice Vouchers and Foster Youth Initiative Vouchers serving foster youth exiting out of foster care program in partnership with Family, Youth and Children Services. The Housing Authority has also been able to locate four new additional properties to accept project-based vouchers.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Feb. 21 to declare a shelter crisis and authorized staff to create up to two emergency sites to shelter people experiencing homelessness. Board members and Department of Health Homelessness Services staff held three public webinars in February and March to provide additional information and answer public questions and concerns.
For more information, including recordings of the webinars and frequently asked questions regarding the sites, visit the Department of Health Services’ Homelessness Services Division webpage.
For more information on housing vouchers, housing programs and housing development, visit the Community Development Commissions webpage.
For more information on Sonoma County’s homelessness services please visit SonomaCounty.ca.gov.