First let me clarify that Safe Parking isn't closed completely. It unfortunately is being consolidated though. This is obviously something we would never want to have to do unless we literally had no other options. We feel that we are at that point. As you know on July 1st we are experiencing a very concerning funding loss of close to $400,000 due to the loss of state ESG. Over half of that loss affects the Family Support Center. Last week the County approved moving the Safe Parking funding to close some of the gap for the Family Support Center. We have been out of safe parking funding for many weeks now, and Catholic Charities has valued this program so much we have been funding it with no grant funding up to this point as we have been trying to avoid this scenario. However with what we are facing with the funding gap, we financially can't do that anymore. Especially since despite the shift that happened with the Safe Parking funding we still have a substantial funding gap of we are trying to make up to avoid having to reduce any other programs. This was publicly discussed in the County budget hearings last week as well as at the City Council meeting last week.
In terms of the participants, we are going to fit every single person we can into our parking lots where we have existing staff and restrooms, and for those that want to get into shelter we will be prioritizing these participants. We will use every single resource we can to avoid anyone having to begin parking on the streets.
We are not closing the program completely, but unfortunately the spots are being reduced. Additionally a clarification in the statement in an earlier email is that it will include spots for families, individuals with disabilities as well as single adults. We are hoping this is temporary, and have been informing our partners that we hope this is temporary so that we can re-activate the site if funding comes back. They have almost all been open to that.
If there is any creative idea of what we can do to avoid this I am super open to figuring it out or if there is another provider who has the resources to do the program we will do all we can to support them.
This is never a situation that we want to be in, and in particular this hits home for me personally. This was one of the first programs I was involved in opening. However I am not giving up either, and hope that this is a temporary issue.
If you have any other ideas or creative solutions we can pursue or support I would love to help with moving that forward. Thank you for reaching out. If others have questions I am happy to answer them.
Jennielynn Holmes, MPA
Senior Director of Shelter and Housing
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa
465 A. Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401