I just got back from spending two hours on the trail with my staff distributing new socks to the people living there. If you haven’t been to the trail, please make sure you go. It’s a huge eye-opening experience. Everyone we talked to were very grateful for the help but it was clear that many of the people living on the trail need a different housing solution to what is currently being proposed. From seeing people that were strung out to those that clearly have a significant mental illness, the level of care and housing needed goes well beyond putting roommates in single family homes. Even with significant social services, I see greater success in a group residential setting with round the clock care. Additionally many have dogs (primarily pit bulls) that would be challenging to manage in a single family home.
I tried to look at the situation and think about the best way to help the people living on the trail. I think many need to go through a drug rehab program but may not consent to that. Putting them in housing with a substance abuse problem would not be good in a shared housing situation. We spoke to a young man, probably 12 years old, living on the trail with his stepmother. She told us she has six of her own children but it appeared she was dealing with her own addiction issues. It’s heartbreaking to see a child living in these conditions.
Unfortunately there isn’t an easy solution to the situation. I think that resources needed to help these people are going to be significant and need to include comprehensive case management, drug rehabilitation and significant mental health counseling.
625 Acacia Lane
Santa Rosa, CA 95409
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