Editor's Note: The public meeting on the purchase and operation of the Sebastopol Inn will be held this Tuesday evening at 6pm. Check the City website for additional information.
From: *Gale Brownell*
Date: Wed, Aug 5, 2020 at 2:06 PM
Subject: Proposed use of Sebastopol Inn for supportive housing
To: Sandy Smith
Cc: Arthur George
Hi Sandy and Art-
You have mentioned in the past that your group were interested in helping out if there ever was an issue that needed positive public input.
The City Council held its first discussion about the potential conversion of the Sebastopol Inn to Permanent Supportive Housing, initially to house Seniors and vulnerable people who have been exposed or who are at particular risk to Covid, then as housing for people who have been homeless. The 31 units would provide not only stable housing, but case management, oversight, and other supportive services. The initial public comments were, as expected, skewed towards opponents who ask things like why there? And, how would this affect our community? The Mayor is concerned that the public be aware of the potential positive impacts during the Covid epidemic and beyond, and asked that I try to energize potential supporters to make comments at the future hearing(s). They are being held the 1st and 3rd Tuesday evenings, on-line now, of course.
Would you be willing to do the favor of informing your friends of the issue (referring them to me if they want more info)? I gathered some pertinent information that might help folks become more knowledgeable and able to comment when the opportunity arises. I don’t know when that will be, but have asked the City Clerk, Mary Gourley, to keep me informed.
Here is some information that might be good to now:
The Feb homeless count found 312 homeless people in the West County, including Guerneville; 101 of those were in Sebastopol. The annual number has varied from about 30 up to this number over the past decade. They range in age from young children and transitional aged youth, up through seniors.
Sebastopol has a number of organizations that provide support and services to homeless people, mostly the local churches which provide some meals, clothing and supplies, referrals, and in two cases, showers.
West County Community Services provides 8 mobile units (soon to be 10). This is permanent supportive housing with an on-site manager and about 1.2 FTE case managers, One is full time at Park Village, the fractional times provide outreach and referral services, and children services at PV. This program has had number of clients who have found the support there to move into their own independent apartments, get the medical care necessary to become more fully functioning, and to find modest employment.
In future comments to the City of Sebastopol Council, I will be emphasizing the following. Please feel free to use these points and to contact me to learn more about any of it.
There is a significant housing and Social services need in SoCo and West County, and
The fact that when people are housed, they are supervised so they are not as potentially problematic as when they are living rough,
That there will be on-site management in the proposed Sebastopol Inn housing,
That some of the more vulnerable and difficult formerly homeless Sebastopol and wider West County residents are no longer living homeless because of programs like the one proposed for the Sebastopol Inn,
The clients will be able to receive the services and referrals they want to help move into independent housing, and to be able to move into the mainstream,
West County Community Services has a continuum of housing and social services to offer, including independent housing throughout the Rapid Re-Housing Program. West County Health Centers are also proactive in helping these clients, and
There are examples of significant client successes from both Park Village and other housing and Supportive Service programs offered by West County non-profits.
We never know a large portion of the people who are homeless in our community because they don’t want to bring any attention to themselves. When they obtain housing and needed services, they generally are at home, not out pan-handling or causing difficulties.
There will be more public hearings available following the two that have been held by the County and the City to date. I will work to keep you updated.
I suspect that ch 7 news will feature a short piece on the proposal in the news tonight, as several folks were interviewed by one of their reporters today.
Yours for more housing and supportive services,