Overall rate of homelessness in Sonoma County drops, but worrying trends persist

23 August 2023

On the surface, the latest accounting of homelessness in Sonoma County produced good news: The number of homeless people in the county dropped 22%.

But against that backdrop, the January single-day count known as the Point in Time Census shows major areas of concern persist, including:

  • Rising Black homelessness. Black residents make up 2.5% of the county, but constitute 9% of the county’s homeless population. That percentage is up from 6% in 2020. In addition, 7% of the chronically homeless are Black.
  • Chronic homelessness. More than two-thirds of the homeless people surveyed during the count said they have been homeless for a year or more. That’s the same as in 2022 and up from 56% in 2018. The federal government defines chronic homelessness as being homeless for a year or more or being homeless four or more times in three years.
  • Increasing first-time homelessness. The percentage of people who said they were newly homeless continues to rise. This year, 35% of those surveyed in January reported that they were experiencing homelessness for the first time. That’s up from 32% last year and 30% in 2019.

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