Tag archive


Sonoma County homelessness agency reshuffles leadership amid surge in spending on crisis

in Community/News
Volunteer Sherrie Vaughn helps a homeless person wake up with a drink of water in the Park & Ride homeless tent encampment near Roberts Lake in northern Rohnert Park on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Sonoma County’s joint homelessness agency — in charge of millions of dollars in public funding and key policy decisions — has for the fourth time in nearly as many years reshuffled its leadership board to better tackle the local crisis as unprecedented sums of state and federal money are now pouring into the region.

The entity, known as the Sonoma County Continuum of Care, has since its inception just over a decade ago been hampered by bureaucracy, mismanagement and poor communication, according to critics and a scathing 2020 civil grand jury report.

In hopes of building a more unified response to homelessness, the Continuum of Care, which includes county and city representatives, last week finalized the latest iteration of its now 17-member decision-making board. One of the main goals was to add members from smaller cities, giving them a stake in policy and spending decisions as California and the federal government are offering much more money — including $12 billion from the state — to launch and expand programs for the unhoused.

Continue Reading on The Press Democrat

Authorities clear 20-person homeless camp in Santa Rosa as cold weather sets in

in Community

As a winter cold front approached Santa Rosa last week, authorities cleared a 20-person homeless camp at Bicentennial Park in the northwest part of the city.

The camp, disbanded on Dec. 16, was one of many Santa Rosa officials have been monitoring throughout the city.

“This one has been on our list for months,” Kelli Kuykendall, the city’s homeless services manager said Tuesday. “There are a lot of other encampments out there.”

Even so, Bicentennial Park is the only camp that’s been cleared in recent months because of a lack of available shelter beds in the city, Kuykendall said.

Continue Reading on Press Democrat

Homeless, incarcerated among ‘losers’ in race for vaccine in California

in People
HolLynn D'Lil is a disability rights advocate who wants people with disabilities to remain in California's coronavirus vaccine priority tier system. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

When the California Department of Public Health released its complicated priority system to guide the state’s coronavirus vaccination efforts in December, people with disabilities and underlying risk factors had their place in Phase 1B, Tier 2. They weren’t at the top. But they were on the list.

Then suddenly, on Jan. 25, they weren’t. On Feb. 12, they were back, reinstated by the state after more than two weeks of public outcry. Those with underlying conditions that make them especially susceptible to COVID-19 will become eligible statewide on March 15.

HolLynn D’Lil, who lives in Graton, moves about in a wheelchair and has spent much of her life fighting for disability rights. She has followed each twist and turn in the saga. The feeling she is left with, she said, is anger.

“Why do we have to continually fight, I mean literally go to battle with officials to be recognized as people?” D’Lil asked. “Why such an extraordinary effort on our behalf just to be included and considered? It seems prejudice against people with disabilities is deeply ingrained.”

Continue Reading on Press Democrat

Sonoma County organizations take up challenge to confront youth homelessness

in People
Aria Bonifacio, 23, moved out of her parents' house in Solano County because of conflict over her gender identity and into a Rohnert Park apartment of her own two weeks ago. Several local agencies are participating in the 100 Day Challenge to house 65 "transitional age youth" with particular emphasis on people of color and LGBTQ+ youth. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

The day in January that Aria Bonifacio moved into her Rohnert Park apartment was an end as well as a beginning. It meant that her time of shuttling between temporary quarters in Sonoma County was over.

“In that moment I was trying to not focus on what I was feeling and just focus on getting done what I needed to get done,” said Bonifacio, 23. Even a few weeks later, she said, “it still hasn’t hit me yet that I have my own place.”

The fresh start — after being laid off from her job at Santa Rosa Junior College — came courtesy of a federal housing voucher secured with help from Sonoma County officials and support from a TLC Child and Family Services social worker who played a key role in her transition out of a shared house run by the nonprofit, where she stayed for almost a year.
Continue Reading on Press Democrat

Sonoma County 2020 Point-In-Time Homeless Count Showed Reduction In County Homelessness

in People

Santa Rosa, CA – November 18, 2020 – Sonoma County’s 2020 Point-in-Time Homeless Count report released this week shows that the number of people experiencing homelessness in Sonoma County decreased by 7% since 2019. The reduction from 2,951 to 2,745 in 2020 was due in large part to an injection of more than $11 million from the Board of Supervisors to fund the Los Guilicos Village campus, shared housing and master leasing options, along with increased funding from the State of California and intensive outreach and care coordination of critical services by the County’s Accessing Coordinated Care & Empowering Self-Sufficiency initiative.

“This year’s point-in-time count demonstrates that Sonoma County’s efforts to provide shelter for some of our most vulnerable residents is moving us in the right direction,” said Susan Gorin, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “Solving homelessness is a major priority for the County, and we must continue to bring individuals into housing with supportive services to maximize their chances of success, particularly during this pandemic.”

Continue Reading on Patch

Sonoma County Buys Hotel To House Homeless Vulnerable To COVID

in Housing

SONOMA COUNTY, CA — The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase Tuesday of a hotel in downtown Santa Rosa for $7.95-million. The hotel will house homeless people who are most vulnerable to developing COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Funds for the purchase of Hotel Azura, 635 Healdsburg Ave., were supplied by the state of California through its Project Homekey program, county officials said Tuesday in a news release.

Once escrow closes next week, the county will convert Hotel Azura into interim housing using Project Homekey funds secured by the county earlier this year.

Hotel Azura has 44 recently remodeled rooms in the center of Santa Rosa, with capacity to house 66 people.

Continue Reading on Patch

Sonoma County secures housing for vulnerable homeless individuals

in Housing

Today the Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of Hotel Azura in Santa Rosa using $7.95 million in funds supplied by the state through the Project Homekey program. Sonoma County’s procurement of Hotel Azura will provide additional temporary housing for vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness. Sonoma County expects to close escrow next week and proceed with converting Hotel Azura into interim housing, using Project Homekey funds secured by the County earlier this year from the State of California.

Hotel Azura offers 44 recently remodeled rooms located in the center of Santa Rosa, with the capacity to accommodate 66 individuals.

“Adding Hotel Azura into our housing portfolio will give us the opportunity to bring more of our COVID-19 vulnerable individuals who are experiencing homelessness into supportive housing, with a path to permanent housing,” said Chair of the Board of Supervisors Susan Gorin. ”I applaud the state for helping counties pursue housing that truly meets people’s needs, with supportive services and access to grocery stores, medical services and transportation.” Individuals experiencing homelessness who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 will have priority access to this housing resource.

Continue Reading on Sonoma County Gazette

Homeless People Gather to Grieve in Santa Rosa

in People

Homeless people and their friends will gather this Saturday, Oct. 24 at 2 pm at Olive Park in Santa Rosa, California in commemoration of the lives of those who have died while living outside. They will walk to the fish sculpture at Prince Greenway Park on Santa Rosa Avenue near downtown for a memorial ceremony.

A Walk to Remember

Dubbed “A Walk to Remember,” the event is an opportunity for friends and family members to grieve the approximately thirty people who die without a home every year in Sonoma County. It honors the sacred worth of unsheltered people in their lives and in their deaths.

“We would really love it if our fellow neighbors could come out to show your support and see that we are human too,” said Lisa Swaney, one of the homeless organizers of the event.

Continue Reading on Sonoma County Gazette

State questions $8 million price tag Sonoma County plans to pay for Santa Rosa hotel to house homeless

in People

While county health and housing leaders maintain hope a state grant program to curb homelessness amid the coronavirus pandemic will help the county buy the Sebastopol Inn, the state is withholding money for another hotel local officials want because of questions about how much it’s worth.

Sonoma County is set to pay at least $3 million more than the appraised value of Hotel Azura, a downtown Santa Rosa hotel where it plans to house some of the area’s homeless population, county documents show.

County officials say that number, which the county provided to the state Aug. 13 more than a month after signing an agreement to buy the hotel for $7.9 million, was simply a placeholder. An official appraisal, due this week, will set the course for ongoing negotiations with the state.

Continue Reading on Press Democrat

Santa Rosa begins clearing homeless camps under Highway 101

in Housing/News
Kent Porter/The Press Democrat
Kent Porter/The Press Democrat

Santa Rosa authorities began Wednesday trying to relocate about 90 homeless people living in several large encampments that have amassed at Highway 101 underpasses in the city over the past several months.

City homeless outreach specialists, police, public works employees and other city workers began removing the people and their belongings from underpasses stretching from Third Street to College Avenue Wednesday morning. They’d been alerted multiple times in the past few weeks that the operation would be occurring, said David Gouin, Santa Rosa housing and community services director.

Nineteen people had accepted housing assistance offers from the city and agreed to move, Gouin said. The others have been asked to stay in touch with outreach workers in case they change their minds.

Continue Reading on Press Democrat

Go to Top